Race to the Summit focuses on the world of competitive alpine climbing during a period where two fearless climbers — Ueli Steck and Dani Arnold — engage in a deadly rivalry for speed records.
Swiss alpine climber Ueli Steck makes waves in the world of extreme sport as he summits the north face of Eiger mountain in record time.
From there begins an intentionally highly publicized career that sees Ueli not only summiting several other Swiss Alps peaks but also becoming a popular name.
Inspired by his story and feats, a mountain guide named Dani Arnold surfaces as Ueli’s biggest rival as he breaks his record by summiting Eiger way faster.
What also starts thereafter is a rivalry that Dani didn’t really anticipate or care for. Ueli, meanwhile, returned to break Dani’s record at the Eiger after summiting a great peak at the Himalayas, while his feat was met with skepticism.
Ueli goes back to the Himalayas and dies after an unfortunate accident.
Dani’s journey continues and he finds himself breaking the speed climbing records for all the major north faces of the Swiss Alps, except for the Eiger, which he withdraws from for reasons informed by his newborn baby and other, existential and wise reasons.
The subject matter allows for the breathtaking scenery of the snow-adorned Swiss Alps. There are some droning shots of these rocky mammoths that feel really colossal and daunting, successfully conveying the extremities of the challenge that the climbers face.
The use of archival footage is great and there’s an ample amount of video and photos that are stitched together in a way that makes it look like Ueli is being interviewed at the same time as other people in the documentary.
There aren’t enough visual stimulants in Race to the Summit, which kind of defeats the premise and potential the documentary has for the thrill and excitement that comes with such an extreme activity.
There can be moments of extreme tension and stress, induced anxiety, and playing on common collective fears like that of height, for a start. All of this can be achieved with great success with some original climbing footage.
But there’s little of it here and that ends up detracting from the documentary a whole lot.
The whole affair comes across as rather uninspired and lazy, much akin to the title it sports which is a victim of Netflix’s desperation for optimal SEO ranking results.
Race to the Summit is a documentary focusing on an extreme sport with very drab and dull execution, failing to deliver any sort of unique thrill or emotions it should evoke in one.
There are beautiful sceneries here and there but they can’t do the heavy lifting required to redeem a lot of poor creative choices and storytelling elements.
Race to the Summit
Director: Götz Werner
Date Created: 2023-10-04 12:30