The Summit Of The Gods Review

The Summit Of The Gods
The young Japanese photojournalist Fukamachi (Damien Boisseau) stumbles across a camera that may have belonged to George Mallory’s 1924 expedition to climb Mount Everest. Becoming obsessed with discovering the truth of their disappearance, he enlists the help of the mysterious Habu Jôji (Éric Herson-Macarel), an outcast climber believed missing for years.

by Kambole Campbell |
Published on
Release Date:

30 Nov 2021

Original Title:

The Summit Of The Gods

It feels like an increasing rarity to experience animation like The Summit Of The Gods, a mesmerising combination of sheer scale and quiet contemplation. Though it at first stumbles over some lengthy exposition and its elliptical editing can get confusing, it’s a mighty feat of adaptation. Director Patrick Imbert distills five volumes of the manga by the late artist Jiro Taniguchi and Baku Yumemakura (the manga itself adapted from Yumemakura’s novel), into a tight but epic 90 minutes. Even in that truncated time, Imbert maintains the core of the man-versus-nature story as well as its relatively patient pace.

The Summit Of The Gods

The animation embraces naturalism, combining simple but expressive drawings with nuanced character acting, and contrasting cluttered human spaces with the expansiveness of the mountain range. As well as that detailed attention, the comic’s sense of mythic grandeur remains in the overwhelming scale of the mountain, placing us right beside its characters in their sense of awe. Imbert maintains this immersion through some incredibly intricate sound design and excellent voice work, in the dubbed and subbed versions alike.

For the sake of practicality, the drawing style is a little simpler in the film than its source; Taniguchi’s dense and rugged linework would be too complicated to put in motion, but Imbert finds an appropriately expressive halfway point. The Summit Of The Gods pours that meticulousness instead into depicting the natural world with photorealistic detail. Its visual depiction of its natural landscapes make the gargantuan rock-faces themselves feel as though they are living, breathing titans. That overwhelming aura helps to truly sell its thrilling alpinist set-pieces, and Fukamachi’s obsession with Everest.

If it falters early on, *The Summit Of The Gods* emerges an astonishing work of animation of both intimacy and incredible scale, stunningly well-crafted and smartly adapted.
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