A Fine Line: A Quick Review



On Saturday evening, Angel and I went to Phil Kochik's Seven Hills Running Shop and watched A Fine Line - the first film in a series chronicling Killian Jornet's current project, 'Summits of My Life' - a four year attempt to break the speed ascent record on seven of the world's most spectacular summits.  Here's a quick review:

The film, directed by Seb Montaz-Rosset, was focused primarily on introducing Killian, and his project, and presenting the first attempt in the series - a speed traverse of Mont Blanc.  The cinematography was spectacular, with lots of panoramic helicopter shots in the Alps.  Killian is (arguably) the best ultrarunner in the world, and the best ski mountaineer in the world, and there are lots of impressive shots of him doing things like running for hours up mountains with skis on his back and then skiing ridiculous technical lines down, all while fueling on glacial melt, wild berries and Nutella. 

It wasn't a perfect movie - Solomon is obviously a major sponsor and got their money's worth on product placement.  They weren't as obnoxious as Red Bull is when they fund these kind of adventure projects though, and they make really good gear so I'm not complaining too much about that.  The central drama of the movie is also very subtly (European-ly?) handled, to the point that it's difficult to figure out what happened. This is kind of a spoiler, but I think I actually enjoyed the film more because I knew about it beforehand, so I don't feel bad mentioning that during the Mont Blanc traverse his partner, Stephane Brosse, fell to his death.  You figure that out in the course of the movie, but it is dealt with indirectly, and several people at the showing were frustrated by that presentation.  The movie was only 60 minutes, and I definitely felt like it could have used another 30 minutes or so of material to flesh out that part of the experience.  

Having said that, it really was a great film. Killian's a uniquely talented athlete, and he's pioneering a form of speed mountaineering that seems to be essentially new, and fits in with the kind of minimalistic approach that Alex Honnold, for instance, is developing in the climbing world.  The cinematography and locations are going to be amazing, and the level of risk makes this whole thing really intriguing.  The film does a great job of fleshing out Killian's philosophy around running and mountaineering, and I think that a lot of people who love the outdoors and/or endurance sports will be able to identify with his thought processes.  I won't attempt to quote, but the essential ideas in the film were that life is something to be pursued and experienced rather than protected, and that happiness is something that you don't always realize you are experiencing until after the fact.  'Summits' is an attempt to flesh out that philosophy in the mountains in a way that's beautiful and intriguing, and is more personal than, for instance, traditional trail racing.  The film got me excited for the rest of this project.

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