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Film Review: "Meru" 

I understand the idea of mountain climbing; the draw of an incredible once-in-a-lifetime view, the desire to go where only a select few have gone before, and the admirable need to push oneself to the limits in order to see what's possible. But the practicalities of the sport (and the unimaginably high risk of injury and death) lead me to believe the mountain climbers are simply a bunch of crazy people. The world-class climbers we follow in the white-knuckle documentary, "Meru" (Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk), do nothing to dissuade me of this belief.

Throughout the course of the film (which follows two separate attempts by the group to reach the Shark's Fin peak of Mount Meru in Northern India), all three live through incidents that by all accounts should have killed them. Yet after their near-death experiences, they each pick themselves up, dust themselves off (though in one of their cases, it's not so much "dusting" as "learning how to walk again") and keep right on climbing that mountain.

Directed by Chin himself, alongside his wife and filmmaking partner Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, "Meru" is thrilling viewing; the vertiginous camerawork depicting their various ascents has a grandeur that is made for the big screen. Author Jon Krakauer ("Into Thin Air") serves as a terrific guide, providing explanations about some of the mechanics behind what we're seeing and allowing us further insight into what's going through these men's minds as they risk death to achieve the seemingly impossible.


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