At times, man is prone to “unlimited” optimism – a mild form of megalomania. However, without this basic physical structure, many achievements, discoveries and adventures would have been impossible, many a disappointment insurmountable.
It will be not be until 2018 when NASA plans to launch a new lunar landing mission. We all have a genetically innate pioneer spirit and want to go to explore. It´s probably a part of man´s roots to long for adventures and acknowledgment in unknown spaces, even if that means risking our own lives. No digital Illusion, but real life will be in the focus. Documentaries determined to deliver high levels of authenticity and entertainment, are dictating this trend and ultimately drawing a huge global audience. The world simply needs people who take risks. They inspire us, encourage us and reassure us. Oddly enough, we seem to attach more value to climbing a mountain on which others have died before us. If mountain adventures were safe, they simply wouldn’t have the same kind of allure.
Mount St. Elias is such a movie. One to show that man is not just bound to the hunt for food or to his familiarly and social responsibilities, but that there are states of reason and mind that eventually are valued higher.
A topic, that draws a lot of attention amongst lesser courageous. Thousands of books have been written on the issue but only very few good films were ever made. Mount St. Elias sees itself in direct line to Joe Simpson’s Touching the Void but also being a film on modern mountaineering, not having the summit as the final goal. It’s about the intensity of the experience very much like the classic surf documentary Riding Giants which is all about those massive waves and nature who defines the ultimate challenge. In Mount St. Elias it is a mountain that defines the benchmark of mankind’s ability.
The project of “this planet’s longest ski descent” is not only a sportive but also a topographic sensation. From the summit of Mount St. Elias (18.008ft) down to the Gulf of Alaska (0.0ft) the relative is also the absolute height.
Just like it was only ever possible for one person to be “first” on Mt. Everest or to step onto the moon, it’s also only possible for one person or team to be the “first” to conquer the ski descent of this mighty mountain from summit to sea.
This fact revaluates the potential of Mount St. Elias a lot. From a dramaturgic point of view the possible and even more so the actual failure with its unknown result – there is no guarantee for a positive result in such a project – adds to the adventure’s dramatic power. A film which makes clear that only the tuning off and the arbitrary overcoming of the ratio turns people into heroes.
Our production-team was challenged all the way, as everything had to be shot live with no chance at all for a retake. But just because of that and with the help of Mother Nature, it allows me to tell a gripping and essayistic story, since the characters develop an “absoluteness” and honesty that can only surface in extreme situations. For me it is the documentation of a story whose real picturization, filmed in the “here and now”, more than just competes with the classic motion picture.