The Verdict: If you want a nice honest documentary of a woman working her way around the world, watch this. If you want to be entertained, excited or invigorated, then watch something else.
Much as I love that Sarah Outen has attempted the amazing feat of powering herself around the world, I am more than just marginally disappointed by this film in comparison with the other films on show at the Kendal Mountain Festival this year. It is essentially a documentary, like many of the other films at the festival, charting Sarah’s progress and struggles in a sea kayak on two legs of her journey. She shows boundless energy and positivity in the face of adversity on her mammoth tour around the globe.
This film has very clearly come from a team with a BBC background, used to delivering standard BBC documentaries for a middle-of-the-road audience, whose boats do not need to be rocked. In that respect it fulfils the bill. For me though, it falls short of what female producer/directors have the capacity to do and also it falls short of doing justice to a remarkable feat of endurance and the power of the mind required from Sarah to power herself single-handedly around the globe.
As for the story, well, it’s interesting and a great example of someone undertaking an extraordinary endeavour. The film has an honesty and integrity, without the fluff, flounce and superlatives that fill every millimetre of our screens in everyday life and this quality is something that we should respect and enjoy. When you diverge from the film and look further, particularly at the tracker on her website, you start to grasp the enormity of her adventure. That is the point at which I became awestruck about what Sarah is doing. Watching the film I had initially found myself questioning whether she’s someone ‘who’s like me’ – we generally like people like us. At first I thought ‘she sounds a bit posh’, and I struggled to find a connection to her through the narrative. However, on watching the BBC Inside Out Documentary below, I warmed to her much more.
The other key element that would make a massive difference to this film is the sound and music. The voice over is delivered in a BBC documentary style, which has its place, but the place is not here, in my opinion. Each of the other most inspiring films at the Festival has a remarkably diverse, current and challenging soundtrack, which instils the kinds of emotions that pull you in, charge you up and send you forth, completely inspired. By contrast the music on this sounds like it’s something that a year 8 music lesson has constructed as it’s end of year project. It’s a shame the London to London film doesn’t capture the essence of adventure for me.
Well done to Sarah and good luck for the rest of the journey.
BBC Inside Out film
Sarah’s Pictures from her travels are really lovely: Flickr – Sarah Outen
You can track her progress round the world here:
We’d be really interested in hearing your thoughts.