Friday, August 28, 2015

Mountain climbing

My information over on the right-hand side of the blog states that I live in the middle of nowhere, which is in some ways true: where I live borders on a large area of state forest. But it's also not quite true, in that I really live in the Catskill Mountains of New York state, only a couple of hours north and west of New York City. In all the years I've been living here and with all those mountains, it's surprising that I don't climb many of them. When Anna Kashfi died last week and I noticed that she was in the film The Mountain, I started thinking that I perhaps should climb one of them before the summer ends.

But of course, when I started thinking of that, I also started to think about classic movies with scenes of mountain climbing in them. As I understand it, mountain climbing as a serious pursuit didn't take off until the mid-1800s. The 1938 film The Challenge, for example, looks at the first known summiting of the Matterhorn in Switzerland, which occurred in 1865.

Before The Challenge, though, there were several German movies set in the Alps, quite a few of them starring Leni Riefenstahl back when she was an actress in the silent era, before she became a director. (I mentioned a fascinating documentary on Riefenstahl's life back in August, 2008.)

In Hollywood, there's a key scene in the 1939 version of Goodbye, Mr. Chips, that has Mr. Chips going on a vacation to the Alps to do some mountain climbing, which is where he meets he doomed wife (played by Greer Garson), who is also climbing. It's a wonder they didn't both fall off the mountain, though, what with the clothes they were wearing..

James Bond climbs a volcano in You Only Live Twice, which is how he learns that the volcano is actually a front for Blofeld's latest nefarious scheme, is hollowed out, and has a caldera that opens! Yeah, this is sheer nonsense, but it's a Bond movie, so you have to go with the flow when they get particularly outrageous. Bond would also do rock climbing in For Your Eyes Only, with the climactic sequence taking place on the side of the mountain

A different take on mountain climbing is in The Devil At 4 O'Clock, in which the main characters try to get down the mountain.

What's your favorite movie with mountain climbing?

No comments: