Before you read the review I urge you to watch the film:
This short film entry to the Women in Mountain Adventure film competition 2015 with the BMC, ShAFF and Sport is Beautiful sees Sophie Radcliffe and husband Charley attempt the feat of cycling between the 8 tallest mountains in the alpine countries and summiting the peaks on the journey.
Alpine Coast to Coast Film Review // Sophie Radcliffe
During film screenings that we held for the competition there were mixed reactions to this film. Some people loved the fact that Sophie is doing something adventurous and creating her own adventures, where others felt that she didn’t come across as genuine, that perhaps she comes from a privileged background and that she was, in fact, being hauled up the mountains.
One of Sophie’s aims is to show that you don’t have to be an elite athlete to go on adventures. Where Sophie talks about building up resilience and training you can see true passion. Her body type is not stick thin and this is a great thing to see – it demonstrates so clearly that you don’t have to have a BMI of 20 to be able to plan and execute an adventure in the mountains. This part of the film really resonates.
The film does have a few disappointments though, for me. Starting a film with a woman crying seems to play to classic stereotypes of women in adventure. There are plenty of epic shots during the film, and plenty on the edit suite floor, I’m sure, which would have served as a magnificent intro to this great and epic adventure.
Accompanying music is used to shape the experience, to add drama and to move the story along. It makes me think that the footage didn’t quite fit together into a story, so the music has been used like a glue, to stick it together. It’s a bit like a broken porcelain jar though, there are little holes peeing through where it doesn’t quite stick together.
The preparation, drive and inspiration for her hugely physical challenge isn’t adequately explored and as such I think the film could come across as a bit of a vanity project. In reality Sophie has done something new and innovative, but this doesn’t come across in the best light – even after 10 minutes I’m not sure what she’s achieved – how far, how many calories per day extra intake, how many hours of cycling. While you can only fit a certain amount into a ten minute film, there are certain shots which I think are wasted shots and could have been filled with more useful information, for example the shot of her and Charley walking up some steps and another shot of a photograph of them both embracing. They don’t add to her story, so why are they in there?
I feel that this film quietly reinforces stereotypes. There is a strong focus on Charley and I think this really detracts from Sophie’s achievements. I feel like it falls into a cliché of woman being rescued by a strong man and I’m not sure if this is the reality or the edit of the film. It’s framed by Charley and I think Sophie’s got more to offer than the film shows. Perhaps this is down to production and editing.
It’s a take on the classic ‘hero faces insurmountable objective’ storyline, but I think it’s confused by Sophie constantly saying ‘we’ – I wish she would say ‘I’ and take ownership of what she’s saying.
I would be very interested in what you think of this film. Have I been too harsh?
We hope to run the Women in Mountain Adventure film competition again, so please sign up to our newsletter if you have been inspired and we will notify you when the competition opens again. In the meantime, get filming.
by Emily Pitts