The mountain and the truth

Messner, the film. Is it possible to add to the self-glorification of the most famous mountaineer of our time an additional staging and to reveal surprising thoughts of a man, who has been permanently self-reflecting? Can a film bring new insights, when all the truths of the person and conditions have seemingly already been wrested out? The producer Andreas Nickel has succeeded in doing so. His impressive oeuvre maximizes what a modern mountain film can achieve, when it wants to distinct itself from the big screen melodrama and from the kitsch of series: the true presentation of people who themselves are questing for truths.

Reinhold Messner for example explains his life-long fascination with the mountains due to rebellion and escape from narrow and authoritarian conditions; though, his arc of suspense starts in the village and in his parental home. As with many other mountaineers, this rearing up is different or has even a contrary reason. This can be the escape from a saturated normality, which has pushed already the representatives of the British upper-class society to the Himalayas, and today brings managers of huge enterprises to the highest mountains in Europe and the urban Viennese citizens in masses to the nearby mountain Hohe Wand. Others again - often late bloomers - use their passion for the mountains to fight against the decay of their bodies and the cowardliness of the old age within their arc of life.

However, what all these people of different origins and different life-stories have in common is their quest for the truth within themselves. Truth can be found by simply exploring some places on earth which are not easily accessible, be it the Geschriebenstein mountain in Burgenland (A), Mount Everest or the dense jungle in Papua New-Guinea. Truth can be found by pushing one’s limits, close to the muscular and psychological breakdown. And often this truth, found in such a laborious way, can be found in the confrontation of risks. Mountains and untouched nature offer, like no other territory, the perfect setting for this quest for limits and truth.

A film about this kind of space is a medium which tries to deepen and to multiply the personal experiences of people. According to the rules of responsible journalism, a documentary interprets the individual experience into a generally understandable language of pictures, sounds and actions; with similar demands, a movie re-enacts possible worlds of thinking.

When is a film successful, though, when is it a good mountain or adventure film? Maybe a film is good when - in its quest of the truths and thanks to its film structure - it comes the closest to the world.

Dr. Christian Rainer
editor & chief editor of „profil“