20.2.08

The Man Who Skiied Down Everest






Journal Entry. Toronto.
February 19th, 2008.

I loved this film.

An outrageous story of adventure and courage...tragedy, hope, and overcoming the most impossible of odds -- all of it done by a crazy 69 year old Japanese guy who'd made his living writing poetry, doing the occasional art-house documentary and reading tarot cards.

And "yes" he really did ski down Everest. Or at least part of it.

Beautifully shot, lushly scored, peopled by weird and wacky characters ... and the last few minutes when our hero literally FELL down the mountain - wow. A thousand meter helter-skelter tumble that gave new meaning to the word wipeout.

It was a great documentary and richly deserved its Academy Award.

Did I mention it was produced by a Canadian ?

Budge Crawley.

You know - Crawley Films of Chelsea, Quebec ?? The Loon's Neckace. The Luck of Ginger Coffey. The Rowdyman. Janis.

Crawley Films was THE place to work if you were an aspiring documentary film maker in the 40s, 50s, and 60s (the NFB was the place you went if you couldn't get a job at Crawley).

I've been thinking a lot lately about helter-skelter type death plunges and people who try amazing things which leave us scratching our heads wondering "what the hell's he doing now".

Here's the thing, a professional opportunity has come my way of -- Everestian proportions. Something which will turn my personal and family life upside down. I'll burn bridges, alienate colleagues, retreat from hard won battles, maybe lose money (again) -- but I'll get a chance to be part of something remarkable and make some damn good films.

I'm going to take it.

I've often wondered what went through that Japanese guy's mind as he cartwheeled down Everest before sliding to a stop just meters from the edge of a crevass where he most assuredly would have met his ancestors.

Did he think about those unpaid hydro and phone bills ? Did he worry about his line of credit ? Or wonder what his critics standing in the shadows would say upon learning of his demise ? I don't think so.

I'd bet my last buck he thought something like:

"odorokubeki bakabakashii fotogurafu"

translation ?

"What a GREAT FUCKING SHOT."


...my kind of guy. Definitely.

1 comment:

jimhenshaw said...

I loved that film too! There's a similar great Canadian doc that few have seen with the same theme called "The Devil at Your Heels" about this insane idea to jump a car across the St. Lawrence River.

Best wishes for whatever chasm you're about to challenge. Pushing the envelope is what its all about. Don't worry, you can still go back to thinking about your line of credit when its over.

Jim