Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB
Original Title: Cerro Torre: Schrei aus Stein
Alternate Title: Cerro Torre Scream Of Stone
Germany/France/Canada/Italy/Argentina/United Kingdom/South Africa, 1991. Sera Filmproduktion, Molécule, Films A2, Les Films Stock International, Wildlife Films, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Constantin Film, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen, Canal+, Telefilm Canada, Lucky Red, Rai 2, European Script Fund, MEDIA Programme of the European Union. Screenplay by Hans-Ulrich Klenner, Walter Saxer, English dialogue by Robert Geoffrion, from an original idea by Reinhold Messner. Cinematography by Rainer Klausmann. Produced by Henry Lange, Richard Sadler, Walter Saxer. Music by Sarah Hopkins, Alan Lamb, Ingram Marshall, Atahualpa Yupanqui. Production Design by Juan Santiago. Costume Design by Ann Poppel. Film Editing by Suzanne Baron.
Werner Herzog takes his cameras to South America where creates a fictional story around a climb up the very real peak of Cerro Torre. After a televised, indoor rock climbing contest results in victory for contestant Stefan Glowacz, journalist Donald Sutherland accompanies him down to Patagonia where the athlete is challenged to perform an outdoor climb up one of the world’s most dangerous mountains against veteran climber Vittorio Mezzogiorno. An early, aborted attempt by the younger hothead to reach the peak claims the life of the climber’s companion, Glowacz telling his team that he did make it to the top but has no visual proof of having done it. Mezzogiorno bows out and buys a local property while Sutherland brings in more media firepower (including producer Al Waxman) to cover a second climb, while on the personal romantic front, Mezzogiorno’s girlfriend Mathilda May starts spending more time with his competitor. It has all the makings of a great, sporty melodrama, but the characters are all wan and there’s none of the mad eccentricity that makes Herzog’s films so memorable. The cinematography of the peak itself is stunning, but there’s only a few shots of impressive stunts while everything else looks staged and fake, hampered by a screenplay that slogs through its drama with little interest or inspiration.