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BMZ Review: The Alps
By Ann Coates


The Alps
Written by: Ann Coates
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: May 9, 2007


Category: Reviews

The latest film from MacGillivray Freeman Films, The Alps, combines impressive images of the Swiss mountain range with the moving journey of mountaineer John Harlin III, and his attempt to climb the dangerous North Face of the Eiger, the same mountain that took his father's life 40 years prior.  Directed by Stephen Judson, the film skillfully mixes Harlin's true life drama with the occasional educational element, all the while under the presence of the rugged peaks of the Alps.

The film follows Harlin's expedition from genesis to finale, opening with Harlin's arrival to Switzerland with his wife and daughter in tow.  The Alps begins this journey with aerial shots of the European mountain range which persist throughout the film -- the audience comes to know quite well the tall, jagged edges of these mountains -- dramatic at first, but by the end somewhat repetitive.  Nevertheless, it is Harlin's quest that proves compelling; he is not so much creating mountaineering history, but battling his own personal fear with the Eiger.

As Harlin readies his climb, which he will take with husband and wife team, Robert & Daniela Jasper, the film moves into the educative territory, studying various aspects of the Alps from its formation to its geological content.  An expertly shot avalanche sequence is also found within the film, which proves to be simultaneously beautiful and deadly.  Once returning to Harlin's story, the film contains incredible images of minute human figures dangling from the sheer, vertical wall of a mountain.

The film suffers somewhat in its attempt to present every aspect of the Alps, from the quaint mountain villages to bungee-jumping off a high dam, even the Matterhorn gets its due in this film.  Rather a more focused consideration could have been spent on Harlin's journey itself.  His climb had its own share of drama with its near spills and early morning climbs in almost complete darkness.  A weak soundtrack provided by Queen accompanies the film and feels out-of-place with its wailing, melodramatic guitars.  Despite these hitches, The Alps has its strengths, capitalizing on the size and breadth of the IMAX screen, and revealing the mountain range's otherwise unattainable serrated peaks to the less intrepid.

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Additional BMZ Reviews of The Alps

MacGillivray Freeman's The Alps by Ross Anthony

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