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Film Review // Alpine Coast to Coast // Sophie Radcliffe

Film Review // Alpine Coast to Coast // Sophie Radcliffe

Before you read the review I urge you to watch the film:

Alpine Coast to Coast

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.

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 16.32.34

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


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1 Comment
  • Kelly McDonough
    April 25, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    I love adventure movies. I love them so much that it’s hard for me to be discerning. For example, one of my favorites is the short one about the guy who pooped his pants while trying to get himself unstuck in an off-width- you should check it out on YouTube. I think I love adventure movies so much because I’m always rooting for the adventurer. But, sadly, this one left me wanting.

    This film was disappointing because the actual “Alpine Coast to Coast” was never properly defined. Cycling? Climbing? Mountaineering? There were clips of all of these but I never knew, really, what it was all about. I agree with Emily when she says that we needed to know details such as distances, elevations, calories burned- something to tell us how grand the adventure really was.

    The film also wasn’t clear about who the protagonist was. Was it Sophie? If she’s a regular woman with badass ambitions, then let us see that. Show us why we should admire her strength and commitment, as much as her vulnerability and self-doubt. The film seemed to mostly be about Sophie, but then I was unclear about the man’s role. Was he there as a supporter or a partner? If he was the partner then it seemed to me that the film would have made more sense to have been about the both of them. If Sophie was the protagonist then I needed to know more about why.

    In spite of my love for adventure films, this one didn’t do it for me. We needed to know more details about the struggle, the adventure itself, and what our hero, or she-ro, as the case may be, was all about.

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