Netflix film ‘The Summit of the Gods’ or ‘Le Sommet des Dieux’ is a French-language animated adaptation of the Japanese Manga with the same name.
Makato Fukamachi, a Japanese photojournalist, accompanies mountain climbers to take pictures. He complains about the lack of determination in the climbers affecting the quality of his pictures.
Someone approaches him and offers him the camera of George Mallory, a mountain climber who attempted to scale to the summit of Mount Everest in 1924, well before the first recorded success in 1953.
Whether he was successful is a mystery till this day, as he died on the mountain. However, it was impossible to say whether he succeeded, unless someone could get their hands on his camera. Thinking of it as a joke, Makato shrugs him off.
He later finds Habu Joji, a mysterious mountain climber, taking the camera by force, leading to him wondering if it was real.
Habu was an extremely stern and prodigious mountain climber, who went missing after the death of a child, Buntaro, who was accompanying him during a climb. After a mistake, Buntaro cut his own rope as there was no way he could survive.
Racked with guilt, Habu has been sending letters with money to his sister ever since. Makato promises his boss that he can find Mallory’s camera and write an article about whether he managed to succeed.
As he researches Habu, he gets deeply involved with his story. Habu had been competing with Hase Tsuneo to scale one of the three great north faces of the Alps, in winter, alone.
While he was leading, one mistake led to Habu hanging for his life. He is rescued by Hase’s team, and he loses two of his fingers during the incident. Hase goes on to reach the summit and get all the glory.
Habu later sees news that Has died during an attempt to achieve the feat of scaling the southwest face of Mount Everest in winters, alone.
Makato figures out that the competition never ended for Habu, and he must be attempting to complete what Hase could not, in Nepal.
He finds Habu and convinces him to be an accompanying photographer, as Habu would need proof that he was able to climb the southwest face of Mount Everest in winters alone.
The Summit of the Gods ending explained in detail:
Begin the ascent
The rules for the solo climb state that there must be no communication or intervention between the climber and the photographer. Habu warns Makato that if he is in a tight spot, he mustn’t expect help from Habu.
The two begin their climb. Makato asks Habu why he’s doing this, even though Hase is dead and the competition is over. Habu asks why Makato is risking his life to join him? There’s more to climbing than competition and articles. Habu also refuses to talk about Mallory’s camera.
Habu leads the climb and Makato follows him from a distance, clicking photographs along the way. Makato’s are limits are much less than Habu. He begins slightly tiring soon and barely manages to jump over a small cliff to keep up.
Slowly, Makato starts to realise what a Herculean task this is. He struggles to get over every obstacle in his way, but somehow still keeps track.
Habu and Makato make a base to rest and eat. The latter is stunned by the landscape and the beauty of the mountains at night.
The two continue their journey. Things take a turn for the worse when they get a transmission that a storm is building up nearby.
The situation finally starts getting the better of Makato, who gets frequent migraines due to the high altitude and his lack of experience in such conditions.
He gets stuck, unable to move due to the headaches, as a storm begins to brew as well. It looks bleak for the photojournalist.
However, Habu arrives just in time to save him, despite earlier claiming that Makato is on his own during the climb, possibly not willing to let anyone else die after what happened to Buntaro.
In dire conditions, Habu carries Makato on his back and climbs towards a safe spot, saving Makato’s life from certain death.
Habu says that since they took too much time, the only way to reach the summit is now through the Yellow Band, which is exposed in the winter, making it impossible.
He reveals that it is actually Mallory’s camera that he found near the ridge. The body was a fair distance below the summit, but it is impossible to say whether he was ascending or descending. When Makato says that the photos can reveal the truth, Habu questions whether it really matters.
Reaching the summit
Habu insists on still attempting to reach the summit, telling Makato to return safely since he won’t be there to help this time around.
As Makato descends, Habu continues his climb, persevering through every condition and obstacle. He finally reaches the summit, conquering what hadn’t been done ever before.
Makato waits for Habu in the lower parts. After a few days, he realises that something is wrong and Habu won’t be returning.
The guide who accompanied them to the lower parts gives Makato Mallory’s camera and a note from Habu, something he had told him to do if he does not return.
In the letter, he says that he’ll find the answer to whether Mallory was successful in the camera, however, if he wants the answer to why he attempted this or why Habu attempted this, he must have gotten an understanding during their journey together.
Climbing is what made Habu feel alive, and he followed his calling right till the very end. His body is shown buried in the snow, as he failed to descend safely.
Makato develops the photos from the camera and gets his answer, but it is never revealed to the viewers.
Instead, we see that Makato, himself, carries on the will of Mallory, Habu and countless other mountaineers who perished due to that intangible feeling that makes them want to climb.
In the end, Makato scales Mt. Everest on his own, albeit the conditions are unrevealed. He found the will inside himself to risk it all and reach “The summit of the Gods”.