When I heard that someone was making a movie about mountains and that Willem Dafoe was narrating it, I was aroused. Dafoe’s voice has the same effect on me as that of Christopher Walken’s. Both expouse a fluctuous, accentuated, almost stumbling stream of words that either enchant or encite. Dafoe has a softer, laid-back cowboyesque flavor, whereas Walken is that New Yorker dropping acid on NJ transit during rush hour.
Mountain is much more than a voice-over though. We were once afraid of mountains, that is what the film teaches us. We were also curious about, then obsessed with, and sometimes indifferent to them. I don’t see a lot of Warren Miller pictures, so I’m unclear how spectacular the photography should look, but the footage of this film seemed pieced together from differing stock and quality? That’s my first impression, just forget musical score–Maybe we saw it in one of the small theaters at SIFF, maybe the volume was down, we didn’t sit in the perfect seat, we didn’t know to care more about the music than Dafoe’s voice or the GoPro footage at the time. The soundtrack is available on Spotify.
I was not in awe of the mountain’s majesty or its photogenicity. The social interaction between man and mountain, and man and man and mountain is what seemed most interesting about this production. What was first an insurmountable obstacle later became an adventurist’s playground and engrained in our socioeconomic makeup. Photography, painting, travel, railroads, highways, snowshoeing, hiking, rock climbing, skiing, fishing, logging, fresh water supply, hydroelectric power, and wildlife habitats are just what immediately come to mind.
At 70 minutes running time, it’s worth a look. If mountains are in general what you seek, there are festivals dedicated exclusively to the subject. You might find more of what you’re looking for by reviewing some of their submissions:
Venue: Seattle International Film Festival, 2018