The Flower has been helping me straighten out my den, part of which includes (after the heavy lifting is done) going through hundreds of movie stubs. For me, it’s always fun to come across an old stub and remember the movie, who I saw it with (or if I saw it alone) and what we thought of it (or why I saw it alone). But I’ve got too many of them, and they fade, and my long term goal was just to capture the date I saw the movie and put it here for posterity.
The Flower is a curiously aware creature for a teenager, realizing that she’s on the cusp of the rest of her life and both trying to plan out how she wants it to go while realizing that prediction of the future—especially when it comes to wants and needs—is a tricky thing. You won’t see her, for example, getting a tattoo, and she’s quick to dissuade her friends from doing similarly permanent things. Her argument goes something like, “If you had gotten a tattoo last year, it would have been of [some pop culture ephemera]. Would you want that today? What makes you think you’re going to want anything you pick today five years from now?”
She’s not wrong, though her success rate in talking her friends out doing stupid things is not, perhaps, as high as she’d like.
She has a curious perspective on these stubs, therefore, as she remembers the movies (when she saw them). We came across Prince Caspian, for example, which was 10 years ago! She had been a fan of the books (which I read to everyone), and she said, “You told me after this one that the Narnia books were a Christian allegory. I had no idea!”
The thing is, it’s now been nearly five years since I saw Meru—can I really comment on it? I’ll leave that for you to judge.
This is a documentary on mountain climbers. Not those candy-ass day-trippers who do Everest, oh no. Anyone can do Everest these days, even if they have a 20% or so chance of dying. This is about the climbers who tackle Meru.
After five years, what do you remember about a movie like this? I didn’t remember, for example, whether or not they actually made it. I had to look it up, and I won’t write it here. So here’s what I do remember:
- Somebody, a mentor or former member of the team, I believe, had died in previous attempts. I believe the team talks to his wife—actually, one of them may have married the poor woman, giving her the opportunity to be twice widowed.
- Parts of the mountain outcrop horizontally, so you have to climb it upside-down. At one point, they have to spend the night suspended from one of these overhangs. They have a tent specifically made for this purpose, as there is apparently no guarantee you can avoid it.
- One of the climbers apparently has a stroke during the climb. He loses his ability to talk or function very well. They continue the climb and he recovers!
So I’m left with quite a few impressions from this 90 minute movie, and my feelings then and now are sort of the same. I respect the drive of Man to do challenging things. I could wax poetic on this urge and how it contributes to humanity’s greatness.
But what the hell, people? If the urge to climb Everest was “because it’s there”, the urge to climb Meru was “because it’s hard”. Fatal, even.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I may not contain multitudes but I got at least two in me: One going, “Yeah!” and the other saying, “Are you kidding me with this?”
OK, on the three point scale:
- Subject matter. It’s not exactly King of Kong, but neither is it Created Equal. We’re dealing with a topic that’s interesting not because of any tangible outcome but because it reflects something interesting about human nature.
- Presentation: Well, the camera crew is up there on a lot of these shots. Even now I remember how amazing some were, and how The Boy and I were questioning how they could be done technically. It’s an impressive feat with some great moments.
- Slant: None, as far as I can tell. The filmmakers, arguably, are validating the pastime by making the documentary at all, but they never say this is good, or this is bad. There may be a slight slant in terms of favoring the documentarians themselves, just by managing to pull it off, but I think that’s fair.
Over all, we liked it, while maybe not entirely getting it. I’m stretching my mind back for this but I feel like it was ever-so-slightly too long, in that way documentaries have when they don’t realize that the audience doesn’t necessarily share their obsession. But definitely worth a look and way easier than actually climbing…anything. A hill. A ladder. A stepstool. Whatever.