Climbing a mountain vicariously by watching films like “The Alps” on IMAX is as close as most of us will ever get to the real thing. If you’re like me and live/work in a city but dream of travelling to remote beautiful places like mountains and deserts than it’s well worth watching.
The “Eigernordwand” (north face of the Eiger) is a 1829metre vertical face of sheer jagged limestone considered one of the most difficult climbs in Europe and has claimed many lives including John Harlin III’s father 40 years ago.
The film follows the preparation and progress of John Harlin III’s team attempt to climb the “Eigernordwand” and finish the task his father tragically failed to complete.
“The Alps” offers breathtaking widescreen visuals with an eagle’s eye view of the Swiss Alps and gives you a glimpse into the life and motivations of someone who spends life on the edge but is also far more safe dogged and well prepared than normal people.
Amazingly the camerawork is very steady even though it was taken using heavy IMAX cameras from a helicopter and the narration from John Harlin III and Michael Gambon (Dumbledore from Harry Potter movies) as well as the musical accompaniment are suitably understated allowing the visuals to take pride of place.
With regular small screen movie tickets at Hoyts and Greater Union already costing $15-$20 it’s worth considering whether to go to IMAX instead and get a true bigscreen experience which literally fills your field of vision. I’ve been on aerial flights of the New Zealand Alps and the views in this film were almost as good
Other People’s Reviews of “The Alps”
An intimate, yet soaring story … John Harlin III was just 9 when his father died after a rope broke during his climb of the infamous, awesome and ruggedly beautiful Eiger mountain. It took him 40 years mostly because he wanted to spare his mother the anguish, but finally it had to be done. And it was done through an opportunity offered to him by the filmmakers, who wanted to tell an Alpine story. This is one of the best.
Shot for the IMAX screen, helicopters were used to transport the hefty IMAX camera gear. Inside the story of alpine climbing are the intimate personal stories of the Harlin family, and the details that give us the understanding – the reasons why. This is important and valuable as the doing itself, a scary task, but also an exhilarating one.
The sensation is almost tangible and the story engaging. We meet Harlin’s family and we learn a bit about the origins of the Alps as well as about climbing. But the majority of the action is cliff hanging stuff. Literally.
– Andrew Urban (Urban Cinefile)
Even though the film was shot and is being shown in the 2-D format and not in IMAX’s sometimes gimmicky 3-D one, “The Alps” is still not for those who have a fear of heights.
After all, the documentary short puts viewers at the base of, on the side of and on top of the European mountains, some of which rise nearly three miles above sea level.
Judson is wise enough to limit the voice-over bits (narrator Michael Gambon is appropriately subdued) and makes good use of occasional music from the rock group Queen (a bungee-jumping scene features “Can’t Stop Me Now,” and there are a couple of instrumental solos from guitarist Brian May).
– Jeff Vice (Deseret News)