The Summit of the Gods Review: Melodrama's Ascent To The Highest Peak


 Mountaineering activities, especially climbing the highest mountain in the world such as Mount Everest, often radiates energy full of optimism, adrenaline-pumping adventure, a great conquest agenda.

Why do mountain climbers keep going, keep climbing, what are they looking for on the top of the highest mountain? “The Summit of the Gods” is an animated film that wants to invite us to reveal answers that cannot be explained by verbal statements alone.

Adapted from the Japanese manga by Jiro Taniguchi, “The Summit of the Gods” (Le Sommet des Dieux) is produced by French animation studio Folivari and directed by Patrick Imbert. The animated film is executed completely dubbed in French.

We will follow a photographer named Makoto Fukamachi, chasing Habu Joji, a talented mountaineer who disappeared from the media after a tragic past. Apart from wanting a pocket camera to witness the disappearance of famous climbers, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, Fukamachi also wants answers from Habu Joji; what makes mountain climbers want to reach the top of Everest even though their lives have to be at stake?

Minimalist Animation Supported with Uplifting Script

Not inferior to the productivity of the Japanese animation industry, the French animation studio is also one that excels on an international scale. One of the main strengths of French animation is its highly philosophical and emotional scriptwriting.

Some animations often use this media to give messages that are metaphorical, for example, “I Lost My Body” (2019) or “The Red Turtle” (2016) in collaboration with Studio Ghibli . However, “The Summit of the Gods” is an animated film that presents explicit story material. For those of us who don't enjoy animated films where we have to find the meaning behind the story, don't worry, this climbing-themed film is very easy to listen to.

“The Summit of the Gods” has a very minimalistic animation style, emphasizing that every scene is a “real” event. There are only a few scenes that are given a surreal touch when it comes to the hallucinations or dreams each character experiences. Possibly set in the 90s, there are plenty of visuals that manage to evoke a retro Japanese aesthetic. Although it has artistic animation and meets standards, this aspect is not the main advantage of this animated film. The main advantage of this film is the script.

Films such as “Everest” (2015) become a venue for production on a large scale, where the expected approach is more of a real visual experience and an adrenaline rush. “The Summit of the Gods” does not need to gather hundreds of logistic crews and well-known actors to realize this film project. We don't need to be shown a stunning live action presentation to understand the perfect script adapted from this Baku Yumemakura novel.

The script presented is very touching and emotional, even for those of us who are not fans of animated films. That is what is often the hallmark of French animated films. The script that is presented is very meaningful and dense, starting from the questions in the prologue, to the answers we can't imagine at the end of the film, especially for those of us who are not mountain climbers.

The Script Writer Really Understands Trivia About Mountain Climbers

It could be because the scriptwriter has a great love and respect for the source material, “The Summit of the Gods” shows various technical and philosophical aspects of a climbing activity.

We get new knowledge about this one hobby or profession. Starting from the technique of climbing a steep mountain wall, every tool and equipment used, to the logical decisions that must be made by a mountain climber in a critical situation. Then the contradiction between the logical decision and the moral principles of a climber is presented in a tragic scene.

Animated film script writers are very successful in making the audience understand why they (mountain climbers) do what they do, why they are willing to leave conventional jobs for an adventure that risks their lives. The written script is not only strong in dialogue and narration, but also successfully translated into a visually appealing storyboard.

Habu Joji will be the main character in the story we see through Fukumachi. Not a heroic story and full of great conquests, Habu has a melodrama story as a mountain climber that makes us feel sad for most of the film.

In the end, this film will not provide the answers we hope for, not in a series of concrete sentences. We will never find a definite answer, but we will know the 'why', after listening to the story of Fukumachi and Habu Joji in “The Summit of the Gods”.

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