film reel image

film reel image

Monday, February 14, 2022

The Alpinist 2021 * * * * Stars


"When I'm in the mountains, life is so incredibly simple". Those are the words of the late Marc-Andre Leclerc. He was a fearless alpinist, a no man's land life-lover, and a spiritual crusader.

With insightful, expert interviews, breathtaking cinematography, and gnarly, wide-angled film-making from Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen, 2021's The Alpinist is a documentary that's all heart and well, all gut. "Alpinist" chronicles Leclerc and his insatiable appetite for the dangers of rock climbing. The dude didn't care about fame and he probably didn't even want to be in this film. Marc-Andre just wanted to climb and climb he did. 

Marc-Andre Leclerc died before The Alpinist ever reached the thrones of Netflix (circa 2018). And he died doing what he loved and what he knew might happen. That's the flick's twist I suppose and at the same time, it's probably the directors mournful tribute to Leclerc. It's always sad when anyone passes away but it sort of adds to "Alpinist's" richness as novel. Powerfully realized and with merit, The Alpinist is the motion picture equivalent to a car accident. You want to but just can't look away. 

Whether it's Leclerc climbing ice glaciers in the Canadian Rockies, the Torre Egger in South America, or anything in the Squamish (that's in British Columbia), you feel as if you're with him and scared-straight (he probably wasn't though). I mean I'm afraid of heights and at certain times during "Alpinist", I flinched like a mother. 

That's a paean to how well Mortimer and Rosen film this thing. It's the quiet moments they provide, the meccas of dangerous beauty, the mammoth landscapes they were forced to use, and the types of shots they yielded (master shots and POV shots I presume). I don't know how they did it and well, I might not want to know (ha). Yup, whether you are a rock climbing enthusiast or not, The Alpinist will still fulfill your cinematic "summit". I'll always just view from afar. 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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