MERU documents a mountain climbing thrill

Dwight Casimere | 8/16/2015, 8:37 p.m.
NEW YORK--MERU, the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner for U.S. Documentary, is the most adranelin pumping film you will ...

NEW YORK--MERU, the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner for U.S.

Documentary, is the most adranelin pumping film you will ever see. It is terrifying

in its nail-biting reality because you are constantly aware of the clear and present

danger of the dare-devil climbers who are also, incidentally, the filmmakers and

cinematographers . They accomplished the mind boggling feat of scaling the world's

most dangerous peak while narcissistically filming the hair-raising adventure every

grueling inch of the way.

Filming itself was a feat within itself. "We had to alternate film each other. One

person would climb as the other shot with the camera," explained Anker in a

post-clim interview. "That meant we had to take off the glove on one hand, and be

sure not to drop it, because if you lost the glove, you'd subsequently lose your

hand! You have to understand that our hands were freezing and we'd have to change

out the memory cards on our miniature cameras in freezing cold and high wind without

dropping anything.

One false move and you could not only lose a camera. You could die!"

Produced and directed by the the husband and wife team of Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth

Chai Vasarhelyi, the film is the first-person account of filmmaker Chin and fellow

elite climbers Conrad Anker and Renan Ozturk. The fact that the three survived to

film and tell the tale is a feat in itself. Even if the outcome is telegraphed by

the fact that all three climbers contributed on-camera interviews well after the

climb, its guaranteed that noone will take a potty break or rush out for popcorn

during the 90 minutes duration. It's pretty much a white-knuckle ride all the way

from beginning to end. Stick that in your Mission Impossible pipe and smoke it!

MERU is the real deal, with no trick cover shots, stunt men or CG effects. This

U.S.-India production from Music Box Films premiered August 14th weekend at New

York's Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and the Angelika Film Center and in Los Angeles at the

Landmark Nuart. A national rollout follows.

MERU is no glorified wall-climbing experience. Sitting 21,000 feet above Northern

India's mystical Ganges River, it is awe-inspiring. Known as Shark's Fin it has a

sheer mountain face of slick ice and granite. It sits majestically against the sub

stratosphere sky, both beckoning and daring the adventurous.

Others have tried and failed, Many were sent to their deaths. In fact, Aker himself

had attempted a climb in 2003 and was forced back by severe storms. Undeterred, he

returned in 2008 at the behest of Chin and Ozturk, and the rest is now cinematic

and mountain-climbing history.

Besides the heart-stopping adventure, the film goes behind the scenes to reveal the

tremendous personal toll on family and relationships that the climb exacts. The film

also celebrates the true bonds of friendship and loyalty, especially when the chips

are down. There are many who perished in the pursuit of Meru, including the mentors

of the climbers in this film. In many ways, this film is a tribute to their lives

and their heroic effort.

I really don't want to ruin the sheer thrill of watching this film by telling you to

much about it. If its not playing in your home theatres now, just be patient, it

will head your way soon. It's just too good to linger on a few screens for very


Its guaranteed that your view of life and its challenges will change after seeing

this film. The film proves that all things are possible, even against the greatest

of odds.

MUSIC BOX FILMS presents MERU, now at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Angelika Film

Center in New York and the Landmark Nuart in Los Angeles. Coming to theatres

nationwide soon. Check your local listings for locations, dates and times.