Netflix UK film review: The Summit
Ivan Radford | On 09, Apr 2014
Director: Nick Ryan
Cast: Lochlainn O’Mearain, Cas Van De Gevel, Wilco van Rooijen
Watch The Summit online in the UK: Netflix UK / TalkTalk TV / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
For every four people who reach the summit of K2, one person dies. It’s a sobering, shocking fact revealed early on in this arresting documentary. But it’s nothing compared to 2008, when a disaster killed 11 climbers on the world’s most-feared mountain. What happened up there? The survivors still don’t know. The Summit attempts to find out.
Director Nick Ryan tracks the expedition back to its early days, getting to know the mountaineers and their reasons for facing such grave odds. Rather than a straight chronological investigation, though, he opts for a back-and-forth structure, spanning several different attempts to climb K2 over the decades. As a result, it’s hard to keep track of who’s who and what’s when.
But once The Summit finds its footing, it doesn’t let up. The tragic events of 2008 are horrific to witness, delicately cut with interviews of the deceased’s family and friends – and amplified by the jaw-dropping scale of the peak itself.
Working with stunning cinematographer Robbie Ryan, The Summit surrenders the whole screen to the majestic scale of K2. Seamlessly editing together handheld footage from the slope with reconstructions shot on The Jungfrau, it’s a truly cinematic spectacle that leaves your jaw hanging wide open. The decision not to reveal who survives makes the whole thing unpredictable, and terrifyingly real, while sincere performances, such as Lochlainn O’Mearain as Irish climber Ger McDonnell, make sure the film remains a tasteful tribute to the group.
A gripping and heartfelt documentary that captures the thrill – and the fear – of climbing K2. Visceral stuff.
The Summit is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.