in about 100 words or less
As an older but enthusiastic newcomer to the sport of rock climbing (me on the left), and one who has recently been sidelined by injury, I’m biding my rehab time by exploring the climbing genre. To-date, one of my favourite films on the subject is Valley Uprising (2014), which traces the development of sport climbing in Yosemite National Park. I also recently enjoyed seeing The Dawn Wall (2018) at our local theatre as a result of the pre-purchase of tickets by our local climbing community via Demand.film.
To begin this exploration of the climbing genre in film, I started with a search of IMDB which returned thousands of related results, which in itself, was not very useful. Further searches led to a recent list compiled by Gripped Magazine, suggesting “25 Must-Watch Real and Hollywood Climbing Movies”. While I’m not sure about the origins of this list, it offered me a place to start.
From this initial review of the genre, it has become apparent that the movies have long had a fascination with Everest and mountaineering adventures, which is not exactly my cup of tea. While traditional mountaineering remains a big part of climbing, more recent climbing films have recognized the growing interest in sport climbing and bouldering, particularly those of Sender Films which is responsible for both The Dawn Wall and Valley Uprising, not to mention their popular Reel Rock Annual series of climbing films.
As Hollywood’s depiction of most sports on film is rarely any good, I’ve limited the number of fictionalized climbing films to the few which seem to have some historical value, and those with some credibility within the climbing community. As with my 2014 exploration of Running in Film, I’ve chosen a mix of new and old films that I hope will be entertaining. They are as follows: The Epic of Everest (1924), The White Hell of Pitz Palu (1929), The Mountain (1956), The Eiger Sanction (1975), El Capitan (1978), Scream of Stone (1991), Touching the Void (2004), Nordwand (2008), Messner (2012), Meru (2015) and Free Solo (2018). If you think I’m missing a must-see, please feel free to suggest it in the comments section (Klaus Ming December 2018).