OVID.tv Presents MOUNTAIN Film Review —The Frontier’s Dare

“To certain people, the call to adventure is irresistible. As everyday life has become safer and more comfortable to some, we have begun to seek out danger elsewhere.”

A sweeping vantage of a foggy, alpine cliff-face steadily unveils the astonishing mass of a gargantuan mountainside. Nothing appears out of the ordinary, that is, until the clouds begin to fade, and the focus zeroes in on a pebble-like speck as it speeds down the icy slopes. That speck is a lone skier braving a perilous trek through a slalom of rock walls and falling curtains of snow. Immediately, we understand the risk of the endeavor when intense violins softly phase in and escalate in a fierce crescendo alongside the skier’s wild descent.

“Behind and beyond the mountains stretch eons too vast for us to comprehend. They were here long before we were even dreamed of.”

Narrated by actor Willem Dafoe, Mountain is a documentary that spotlights the untamed beauty of mountainous frontiers across the globe. His words articulate how lofty mountainous terrains depart from the normalcy of lived-in spaces, as he views how people from different walks of life relate to what he calls the “siren-song of the summit.” In a world all on its own, Dafoe illustrates the mountain as a passage into a captivating but deadly realm, one which draws no shortage of visitors, from climbing enthusiasts to athletes and tourists.

Certain undertakings performed by the elite mountaineers who challenge these inanimate monsters seem almost unreal on paper. Climbers patiently carve out vertical paths through snow and stone, hang from icy chandeliers miles above hazy chasms, and brave harsh desert walls with bare hands or without rope. You, too, may feel like you’ve embarked on this brief excursion, sifting through the viewpoints of adventurers on precarious footholds and joining those who find rest at breathtaking summits.

MOUNTAIN Pairs Imagery with Acoustic Moods

Mountain rarely follows a definitive order of events, rather, the scenes flow in and out of Dafoe’s snippets of narration, which are compiled with footage relating to either his appraisals or ponderings. The themes of Dafoe’s observations often veer between the human element and the mountains themselves. In turn, the presentation often leaps from one set of eyes to another. Aerial footage glides over a picturesque landscape in one instance, while in another, the camera shifts into an intimate perspective of a climber’s wobbling GoPro. Occasionally, the documentary will even showcase artistic imagery, shown in a sequence that captures glowing lava streams as they branch and congeal into bulbous alien forms.

Various scenes are likewise joined by a mix of sonic moods that feature the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Hauntingly frantic orchestration accompanies segments filled with energy and risk, whereas dramatic piano and vocal melodies heighten reflective moments. Conversely, serene piano and vocal melodies heighten quieter moments like those with broad vistas.

Since this film sits in a niche space between avant-garde and traditional, those who watch nature or alpine-centered documentaries will likely appreciate the change of pace offered by Mountain. In this writer’s view, the lack of interviews may give some viewers a detached impression of the content. However, the striking footage, soundtrack, and novel approach give this film a stirring, artistic identity unique among other alpine-oriented docs.




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Run Time: 1h 13 min



Director: Jennifer Peedom

Narration: Willem Dafoe

Original Score: Australian Chamber Orchestra


To watch this film, visit the OVID.tv webpage for MOUNTAIN


Images courtesy of OVID.tv

Alex Winters

About the Author: Alex Winters

Although unsure of where his affinity for music and writing began, Alex Winters enjoys finding new, often unconventional music, reading novels, writing fiction inspired by the niche of eerie, post-apocalyptic sci-fi, and working on crossword puzzles. Being outdoors is another hobby he enjoys, which led him to take up long-distance running by himself at first, but he gradually warmed to the idea of meeting with a small running group (when it’s not freezing outside). When he isn’t listening to his instrumental rock playlists, writing, or both, he tries to find time to hike mountain trails with his family and friends.

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