Film Review // Barre des Ecrins // Laura Simpson
This clearly hand-made film by Laura Simpson gives the viewer a quick glimpse into the higher world of the Ecrins Massif in the Dauphiné Alps in France. Standing at 4102 metres the Barre des Écrins is the highest point of the Écrins Massif and is one of the classic 4000ers – peaks over 4000m.
With a couple of soundtracks, fairly low quality sound and wobbly camera shots, the film isn’t a cinematic first in any way, but what the film offers is the first hand experience of a woman mountaineering with two friends at altitude. It’s about someone putting themselves out there to show that women do mountaineer and showing what you get when you go out into the higher European mountains.
The music on the film is interspersed with dialogue from Laura and her friends explaining what’s going on – food at the hut, getting up early to get to the summit. This shows a little of how mountaineering at altitude is different from your average single pitch day out in the Peak or Yorkshire, where a walk in can be as little as five minutes. One small niggle is that the camera, when held by one of team members, focusses on the other male rather than him and Laura equally – this is a common feature of filming, where protagonists are expected to be the males. It’s only a mild niggle and it doesn’t enormously detract from the film as a whole.
At around 2mins 37 a hand held camera shot pans down from her friends in front around to the view of the valley and back up to the path in front and the rope between her and the others. As the music restarts this is the section of the film charting the summit walk. What I really like about this section, despite its wobbly camera and low sound quality, is the use of music to reflect the mood and the idea of a journey.
The look of joy on Laura’s face at the summit, the smiles on the team’s faces and the views you get from being at the highest point show the rewards you get from the efforts required in mountaineering.
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