The Summit of the Gods
In 1924, George Mallory and Andrew Levine attempted to climb to the summit of Mount Everest and were never seen again. Whether they made it to the peak or not has been a source of controversy for nearly a century. A young Japanese photojournalist, Fukamachi, attempts to solve the mystery by finding the Kodak camera that Mallory carried on the climb to “The Summit of the Gods.”
Laura's Review: B+
Robin's Review: A-
Director Patrick Imbert takes the original manga tale by Jiro Taniguchi and the novel it spawned by Baku Yumemakura and, in collaboration with Jean-Charles Ostorero, creates what I call a “real” animation. By “real” I mean that the animation, especially of the panoramas of the Himalayas and the Alps with their stunning sunrises and sunsets, looks like filmed photos. I forgot, often, that I was watching an anime.
As I sat through the exciting mountaineering drama about the most daunting climbs of all, I had memories – visceral, sweaty palm memories, at that – of watching “Cliffhanger (1993)” for the first time. Here, Fukamachi sees a photo of a legendary climber, Habu, holding a camera that may be the one Mallory had on the climb when he disappeared. It becomes the photographer’s mission to find Habu, who has been missing for years following a climbing tragedy, and find the proof to solve the mystery.
Actually, there are two mystery stories here. One, the reason for the story, is the question that has hung in the rarified air of the climbing brother- and sisterhood: Did Mallory and/or Levine make it to the top? But, the meat of “The Summit of the Gods” is the story of Fukamachi relentless search for the legendary climber Habu Joji and the possibility of finding the Kodak that may solve mystery #1.
This is the action-packed portion as Fukamachi begins his search for Habu as we learn of the tragedy that left the man alone and a loner. Once the photojournalist finds the legendary climber, he works hard to convince him to allow a photo essay of the most difficult and dangerous solo climb up an impossible face of Everest. Think about it, the guy with the camera doing the same climb as the expert, just to get the pics.
This story and its visual execution rivals some of the adrenalin-pumping, real-life climbing documentaries like “Free Solo (2018),” where climbing junkie Alex Honnold does a one-man climb up the face of the famous El Capitan in 2017. (Keep in mind that Honnold had a documentary team along for the ride.) “The Summit,,,” is not a documentary, but it sure feels like one and has the same level of excitement. I think this is my favorite animated feature this year.
Laura's Score: B+
Netflix releases "The Summit of the Gods" in theaters on 11/24/21 and on its streaming platform on 11/30/21.