Summit of the Gods (Le Sommet des Dieux)

This was a bit of a harrowing film, and I was transfixed the whole way through.

Having said that, I watched it in 3 separate sittings – partly due to the limited time I had free all the way back in March, and partly due I think, to good old tension.

Because mountain-climbing definitely = tension for me.

Summit of the Gods (Le Sommet des Dieux) 2021

And Summit of the Gods has a few scenes where the stress is right up there at 11 out of 10, even sitting at home on a couch. And it’s not a cheerful film either, mostly dealing with the costs of obsession. Or determination, if you’re being more generous.

That’s part of what makes both lead characters Makoto and Habu so engaging; they act in ways consistent with their overwhelming determination (again, or obsession). And so, of course, I certainly didn’t have to agree with their choices to understand them.

Summit of the Gods is a French film based on a manga by Jiro Taniguchi (and in turn based on an earlier novel), and follows Makoto and Habu as they pursue their separate but deeply connected quests.

The first hook for me was the historical, George Mallory angle – as I’ve long been interested in the grit, ability and oft-times tragedy of those who seek to climb Mount Everest.

And when I first read about Mallory (or folks earlier) doing what they did with less advantages than we have today, I remain stunned. Of course, it’s a hell of a big deal to attempt Everest today or any day, surely.

But as the film moves along, the focus expands nicely to a point where I was most interested to see not only if Mallory’s camera actually existed, but how and whether both lead characters would achieve their respective goals.

I also loved the way the narrative wove together past and present, in some scenes sort of overlaying them, so that the two times and characters could be brought together before the final stretch of the journey.

I haven’t spoken too much about the film visually yet, but there are plenty of great shots where the composition drives home the daunting scale of the mountain, showing exactly what the characters are up against.

And no need to expect variations of white snow only; there’s a range of blues and pinks too, and of course, scenes that aren’t on the mountain at all.

This film wasn’t one I was aware of before stumbling across it on Netflix, but I am glad I’ve seen Summit of the Gods even if I know I do not need to watch it again.

And to finish here, I know I say phrases like this sometimes, and it’s a obviously a judgement call, but probably not the kind of film that will end up being suitable for (nor satisfy) most kids out there.

4 Stars

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