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Gasherbrum: The Dark Glow of the Mountains

Germany, 1984 (MIFF 2001, Burden of Dreams – Werner Herzog)

Director: Werner Herzog

Before Reinhold Messner's name inspired a Ben Folds Five album title he was known principally as a fearless, and possibly reckless, mountaineer who had lost a brother and six toes in his endeavours to conquer some of the largest peaks in the world. In this film Herzog captures Messner's attempts to scale the twin peaks of the Gasherbrum, titanic Himalayan precipices, both of which are over eight kilometres in height.

Messner himself acknowledges that his perilous activities are pointless. He faces extremes of weather, constantly returning to snow and avalanches with a death wish, making him an ideal subject for Herzog. Knowing that this climb could be the crowning achievement of his career, and also his undoing, Messner nonetheless forges ahead. He even makes plans for the future, an equally arduous expedition, traversing the globe on foot accompanied only by a dog. Exceptional music by long-term collaborators, ambient and Krautrock journeymen, Florian Fricke and Popol Vuh.

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