The Summit: An Film Full of Irish Passion

3 Dec

In class this week we discussed the Irish film industry, which I quickly realized was very small. This weekend, however, I attended a mobile seminar at the Irish Broadcasting Authority where an Irish film, The Summit, left me speechless. Not only was it directed and produced by an Irish director, Nick Ryan (who I was luck enough to meet), but it also told the heroic story of an Irishman, Ger McDonnell.

As background, the film told the story of 24 climbers who ascended K2, the second largest peak in the world, and how 8 of them died, Ger McDonnell being one of them. What captivated me about this film was the way it sought to find some clarity to a story that had been in the media and quite controversial. Nick Ryan brought together survivors from the tragedy in order to piece together what truly happened that day and it was amazing how their stories differed in subtle ways, but made big differences. The conclusion is what truly resonated with me, as it revealed how Ger McDonnell died on the summit while selflessly trying to save three fellow climbers’ lives. It is climbing knowledge that if someone is in danger and rescuing them means risking your own life, you don’t rescue them, but Ger was described as the type of person who wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he did so.

This is what I believe made this such a moving Irish film is the way it captured Ger as an Irishman up to his brave death. It depicted his colorful personality as he went from adventure to adventure, his passion for helping other people as he helped people survive extreme situations and his selflessness as he died while trying to save someone else because it was the moral thing to do. I believe that this said a lot about the Irish culture and Irish people, or at least of my perspective of them; from my experience, I have found that Irish people are extremely passionate and kind. This documentary did an incredible job of capturing this about Ger and his Irish-ness, which is why I believe that it is a great addition to the Irish film industry and represents the nation well.

Meeting the director and producer, Nick Ryan, was also an incredible experience of this seminar as he gave us all insight information to the making of the documentary and the direction he wanted to take it versus where it actually went. I was fascinated by the process of making the film and the way he sought to capture Ger’s spirit and Irish-ness, but most of all I loved the passion he had for the film, wanting to make sure it did the story justice, which I believe it did.

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