Monday, November 19, 2012

Film Review: Odyssey

After the huge success of The Long Hope, there has been a great deal of hype about the latest film from Hot Aches Productions. Thankfully, Odyssey - A Climbing Road Movie, more than lives up to the attention.
The film documents a group climbers at the top of their game, as they make their way around England and Wales, ticking off some of the UK's hardest trad routes. The group includes Hansjorg Auer, Hazel Findlay, Caroline Ciavaldini and James Pearson. We begin in Northumberland with some very impressive on sights of a number of E6s and E7s. James, a personal hero of mine, talks a bit about how he has progressed in his climbing career over the years and how important the history and the style of British trad climbing to him. Hazel speaks about how it is important to get over the fear of falling in order to push your grade on trad - there is plenty of footage that features her taking some particularly large falls!
As the trip heads to Llanberis, the group set their sights on some impressive goals. The highlight surely has to be their attempts to on sight Strawberries E7 6b**. So many great climbers have come unstuck by this amazing crack-line and over the years it has seen only a handful of successful on sights. Hansjorg, however, makes it look rather smooth and effortless - very impressive stuff.
James then comes into his own as he has a very successful day at Nesscliffe - E8 flash, E8 onsight and E9 headpoint... not a bad day's work!
The film is beautifully shot throughout and has a very polished feel to the final edit. All of the characters are extremely down-to-earth and very inspiring as well as being rather modest and humble. If you are looking for inspiration to visit amazing crags and attempt hard trad routes, then this is definitely it. It's a close-run thing to decide which is the best climbing film I have seen this year - The Long Hope or this masterpiece. Overall, I think I prefer this film, but only slightly. I think the main reason for this is that I can relate more to the climbers and the routes in this film, and there is not much stopping anyone from getting out there and heading to these crags if they are motivated enough to do so. A very inspiring and excellent film - hats off to Paul Diffley once more.