‘Magnetic Mountains’ film review

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‘Magnetic Mountains’ is the debut film from Steve Wakeford (director) and Menna Pritchard (producer) and tells the story of Steve’s long and painful recovery from a serious fall while climbing Les Petites Jorasses in the French Alps in October 2014. The 70m fall left him with multiple injuries that confined him to a wheelchair in the dark days immediately after the accident, yet driven by the need to make sense of what had happened to him Wakeford picks up a camera to document his search for answers to the question of why he is being drawn back to the mountains, even after having had a nearly fatal accident there.

Wakeford’s quest for answers leads him to some of the world’s best mountaineers, from Steve House and Andy Parkin, to Chris Bonington, Nick Bullock and Tommy Caldwell, and their insights into the motivations of climbers and their attitudes to risk are skillfully edited (the director is a professional sports video editor) into the storyline which comes to a climax when Wakeford returns to the route where he nearly lost his life, and successfully completes the pitch he fell off.

To produce a film of this quality at the first time of asking is incredibly impressive, and answering tough questions like ‘why are we drawn to the mountains’ and ‘are the risks justifiable’ are not easy. Wakeford does draw conclusions towards the end of the film, and these include the realisation that for all the satisfaction that mountaineering gives us, it is essentially a selfish pastime, yet one that can have profound and lasting effects on the people around us if things go wrong. Chris Kempster

Watch the ‘Magnetic Mountains’ trailer here.

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