Meru, film review: ‘Awe-inspiring’

09:06 10 February 2016

Meru Expedition, Garwhal, India. Picture: Jimmy Chin

Meru Expedition, Garwhal, India. Picture: Jimmy Chin

©Jimmy Chin 801-541-1440 jimkchin@gmail.com

This documentary following three climbers trying to conquer the Meru Peak offers a wider look at the supercharged tedium of mountain climbing, says Michael Joyce.

Directors: Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi 
Starring: Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, Renan Ozturk, Jon Krakauer, Grace Chin and Jennifer Lowe-Anker 
Film Length: 90 mins

Though I’m not much interested in mountain climbing, Touching The Void, the documentary about two British climbers’ desperate struggle for survival after disaster hits during an expedition in South America, is one of the most moving films I’ve ever seen. It says something fundamental and humbling about what it is to be human. Meru is about three climbers, Anker, Chin and Ozturk, and their obsession with becoming the first people to conquer the notoriously difficult Shark’s Fin peak of the titular Himalayan mountain. It doesn’t say much about being human but it says a lot about being a mountain climber, and the supercharged tedium of mountain climbing.

Climbing unclimbed mountains is one thing; filming yourself climbing unclimbed mountains is quite another. Chin and Ozturk have done wonders in capturing both the awe-inspiring spectacle of clinging to life 20,000 feet in the air but also the drab mundanities that you need to endure – huddling up in a tent, heating up food, carrying the supplies.

The film is much more than just a climbing procedural; it offers a wider look at the mountain climbing world and the back stories of these three men. It reveals the day-to-day practicalities of mountain climbing, but the mountaineers themselves remain largely unknowable. Why do people with homes and loving families risk it all for this narcissistic pursuit? Other than being incredibly uncomfortable, painful and harsh, 
climbing is inordinately dull. They move so slowly, carefully testing each ledge and foothold before every single step because every little step could kill them. It’s like a Russian roulette version of being a stop motion animator.

Rating: 4/5 stars

MERU is out in cinemas via ourscreen and on digital download from February 12, and is available on DVD & Blu-Ray from March 7.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Stories

12 minutes ago
Middlesex bowler Tim Murtagh

With just a month of the season remaining, Middlesex appear better-placed to become county champions than at any time since their last title 23 years ago.

Yesterday, 17:50
Jay Rayner's Ten Food Commandments offer 'moral guidance'

Jay Rayner talks to Zoe Paskett about his new book and one man show, The Ten (Food) Commandments

Yesterday, 22:30
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha (right) could soon be lining up alongside Tottenham's Victor Wanyama (left) after Spurs made a move to sign the 23-year-old today

Mauricio Pochettino admits he would like to sign a pacy attacking midfielder before the end of the transfer window as Tottenham seek to bring Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha to White Hart Lane.

Yesterday, 18:13
Belsize Grove

It’s little wonder that Belsize Park’s stucco-fronted houses, trendy status and proximity to some of London’s top school attract young professionals and families alike.

Yesterday, 17:14
Nina Martynchyk with her foster mother, Nina B

A young woman who overcame anorexia is organising a conference with the Royal Free Hospital to draw attention to how the condition affects children and teenagers

Yesterday, 17:12
Portland Place students Emanuelle Chalupa, Amiee Douglas and Harry England celebrate their results

Portland Place school students returned to school this morning to collect their GCSE results, with most being more than satisfied with what they found.

Yesterday, 16:47
Students pose for photos at Greig City Academy

Greig City Academy today praised its students for some impressive grades in their GCSE results - including a year 6 student who got an A* in maths!

Yesterday, 16:34
Quintin Kynaston GCSE students gather at the entrance to the school

Students and staf at Quintin Kynaston school had reason to be happy today as they once again improved on the previous years’ GCSE performance.

Most read Hampstead & Highgate etcetera

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now