Monday, 15 February 2016

ShAFF review: Meru

Jimmy Chin, Conrad Anker and Renan Ozturk on The Shark's Fin

In 2012 I went to a European Outdoor Film Tour event in Manchester, a showcase of the best outdoor adventure films from the year. One of the highlights of the 2012 tour was a film called The Shark's Fin, which I blogged about enthusiastically at the time. It was an amazing film, following the efforts of world renowned mountaineer Conrad Anker, world renowned photographer Jimmy Chin, and accomplished climber and film maker Renan Ozturk as they attempted to climb the unclimbable.

The Shark's Fin on the peak of Meru Central in the Indian Himalayas is an incredible mountain; sharp, beautiful, varied in terrain and, if you're a mountaineer, hugely inviting. Like Ahab in search of his whale, Conrad Anker had a score to settle with Meru and, despite an aborted effort just 100m from the summit on a previous attempt, he was unwilling to give his prize up.

Meru - climbing The Shark's Fin

Meru, which had its UK premier just last week, is a feature length version of The Shark's Fin. Expanding from 20 minutes to 90, Meru goes into much greater detail, telling the heroic efforts of the mountaineering trio in depth. It chronicles the team's first attempt to conquer the unconquerable, when they came agonisingly close to the summit only to be thwarted by unreconcilable risk. They backed off to fight another day, albeit with two of the trio declaring never to return.

In the proceeding three years, the fire never left Conrad, who wanted to summit The Shark's Fin to fulfil his mentor's vision. All three of the film's protagonists enjoyed various expeditions in the interim, but a grim and defining accident on one of those trips left Renan with a grapefruit sized hole in his head, two broken vertebrae and a severed artery. He survived. And despite what should of been career ending injuries, his miraculous recovery and unquenchable motivation saw him not only walking again but harbouring a desire to return to Meru with Conrad and Jimmy, to finish what they started.

On top of the world in the Himalaya

If you saw The Shark's Fin at EOFT you will know the outcome of their efforts, but there are no spoilers here for those who haven't. Meru contains amazing shots of the Himalayas, a superb score and an incredible story to tie it all together. It is a must watch film for those attending the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival between 11-13 March.

For further information and to book tickets, visit the ShAFF website.

Other ShAFF reviews