The Big Sick
Finds that laughter-through-tears sweet spot, often in the unlikeliest of places.
The reason mountain climbing films have always and will always excite audiences in unique ways is because there is no way to properly describe the feeling of being higher in altitude than mortals are meant to live. The true measure of a classic is whether the film can accurately represent the rush experienced by climbers as they approach the summit, the adrenaline of simply existing in conditions that reject human life. On the mountain, men are insects, intruders on a place untouched by civilization. Jimmy Chin has made it his life’s work to scale the unscalable and bring back evidence of the daring footsteps taken by those crazy enough to walk into thin air, to paraphrase John Krakauer. Chin and his wife/co-director E. Chai Vasarhelyi turned one of his most perilous expeditions into the thrilling documentary Meru, named for a mountain in India, the white whale for the film’s central group of climbers. Chin and Vasarhelyi spoke about the perils and intensity of making a movie in an inhospitable environment and finding out what motivates men to climb when every earthly sign tells them not to.