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Adventure & the big screen [pt. 2]

November 2, 2013.Oliver.0 Likes.0 Comments

One week passed since the first “adventurous evening” and the inspiration still lasts. Maybe not the sort of inspiration igniting the urge to set off on the next big expedition yourself, but certainly the idea to keep exploring without planning to do so – being receptive for the things around you and discovering a sense of marvel in the mundane…

The promotional avalanche may not be weaker this time, but a certain saturation seems to absorb most of its perfidious force. Maybe just another proof of how knowledge affects sensation. Like walking the same path twice and feeling a difference in distance.

Into the Wilderness

The first movie of the evening intends to follow in the footsteps of Christopher McCandless, whose story has been retraced and retold in Jon Krakauers epic “Into the Wild”. An experimental self-discovery which led him away from civilization into the Alaskan wilderness, yearning for a life of simplicity and solitude. His last refuge, an abandoned bus previously turned into a makeshift shelter, soon became a place of pilgrimage…

“If he was successful, I would have never heard about this story because there are just so many people doing  similar things, but they survive and that’s the difference.”

London-based Frank Dias decided on Chris’ journey as the blue print for his own adventure when Nissan asked the simple question “How much of a thrill seeker are you?”. The competition allowed him to escape a while from his 9-5 desk job and explore the vast outdoors of Alaska. Accompanied by two experienced enthusiast he gets the chance to follow the idealistic trail and eventually step into Bus 142.

One feels a certain fickleness and the emotion triggered when trying to grab and grasp the atmosphere of the place. But one can sense pretty well the invisible ties and his attachment to the things which form his life. He is glad to make the experience but also to know there’s an escape route – back to “his life” while remembering Chris’ words:

“Happiness, only real when shared.”

Moonwalk

The shortest movie of the evening and possibly the entire festival: Yosemite National Park on a clear evening. Free climber Dean Potter is climbing up Cathedral Peak at a leisurely pace to reach one of the points connected by a rope. In the background the moon sets of to conquer the night sky, seemingly intending to perform on the high-wire as well.

The invisible string that connects both “artists” are the soundscapes: Tunes from a piano like fingers deliberately balancing the keys. While the highliner is chasing the moon and sneaking to the other side he also seems to be the conductor – for music and moment alike. Only three words populate the setting and appear almost like a hasty exhalation before holding the breath again and making the way back to the other side:

“Do it again.”

Karakoram Highway

Against the backdrop of the Karakoram mountain range the “KKH” is the highest paved international road in the world, connecting China and Pakistan while tracing one of the main paths of the ancient silk road. A team of three experienced paragliders set off on an epic aerial adventure, aiming to break records: reaching the highest altitude and covering the longest distance Himalayan flight. However, what makes their expedition so extraordinary is their sensitivity for the life of the locals. They may have been high above the earth, but at the same time deeply immersed in their surrounding. Down to earth and head in the clouds…

“These are simply the highest mountains on earth and flying here makes you feel very, very small…”

It’s not only a vast landscape unfolding in front of their eyes but also an opulent kindness and hospitality; not only glorious peaks but also outstanding communities. Life seems to embrace them in this remote corner of the world and so do the locals. A mutual genuine curiosity which makes the adventure rather an experience than an event – mountains of joy! The three engage in their surrounding, feel the pulse of life in the places they pass and for a limited time become almost a part of it. They are visitors rather than spectators. Only the colours they wear make them stick out while the clothes of the locals seem to have soaked up their surrounding, almost camouflage them as people and place become indistinct.

Stealth

London, a furtive vibration in the air and this strange lack of darkness you find in cities at night. The camera is chasing the moves of Josh, a young “urban explorer” trying to evade the gaze and steps of security guards while sneaking his way up some scaffolding. One soon realizes that the spectacle is scripted, visually telling the story of his nocturnal pursuits; reaching the rooftop just after the break of dawn where the ledge of the building becomes his springboard before both day and parachute unfold…

“So many people spend their entire lives asleep while only a select few know what it is like to be truly awake.” ~ Jack Cravatt

Flow Hunters

Red Bull certainly discovered an exciting way of spending money for funding adventures and supporting (extreme) athletes and events across the globe. Gaining exposure in return and branding both a certain lifestyle and way of life may be part of the idea, and so is branded equipment. But if hats miraculously align itself with the camera it’s getting somewhat ridiculous! Some giant metallic blue and silver wings strapped to the back of the athletes would probably be less distracting and more credible. #GivesYouWings rant over…

The movie is following kayaker Ben Brown through his native New Zealand. He and a bunch of friends from all corners of the globe set off on a month-long quest for some of the biggest and most dangerous whitewater found in the country: 35 days on the road, 24 days paddling through some 17 rivers. Despite covering a distance of 8.000 kilometers the trip is rather a patchwork of adrenalin rushes than discovery, rather exploring their own limits than the boundaries of a country. One certainly feels a sense of community and respect for the power of nature, but it seems more like the sort of respect of a disciple in front of the master. They are aware of its superior force, but they seek thrill in challenging it. Near-drowning experiences as side effect of an addictive drug, like canned adrenaline…

“It was just the river reminding me that it’s the boss and that at any moment, it can take you and it can show you how powerful it is.”

Another evening brimful with stunning skills and breathtaking scenery. However, I consider the usage of the word “adventure” sort of a linguistic tightrope walk in itself. My mind keeps drawing a distinction between “experience” and “event”, between exploring own limits and the boundaries of a place. It’s not only the give-and-take basis of adventure, the melting into time and space, the aim to not solely drool over the extreme but rather to discover a sense of marvel in the mundane…

 

header image:
Moonwalk [copyright] Mikey Schaefer

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