Mountain

This Australian nonfiction feature plays like a highbrow version of an IMAX nature documentary. Director Jennifer Peedom presents one gorgeous image after another of mountains and mountaineering; she also provides a cerebral counterpoint to the visual spectacle with Richard Tognetti’s modernist score and Willem Dafoe’s voice-over readings from Mountains of the Mind, the philosophical memoir by British mountaineer Robert Macfarlane. Peedom subtly argues that mountaineering, which enables people to explore previously unseen parts of the world, helped usher in a less spiritual, more scientific age; at the same time she tries to create a meditative, even transcendent experience through reverential depictions of the natural world. The tension between these two thematic elements sustains one’s interest even as the imagery becomes redundant.