3 October 2013 10:48 AM, PDT | Thompson on Hollywood | See recent Thompson on Hollywood news »

Nick Ryan's riveting climbing documentary "The Summit" (Sundance Selects, October 4) reveals the unfolding mystery of how eleven climbers perished on their way down from a successful 2008 ascent to the summit of K2, the victims of bad luck, poorly executed planning, and avalanches. In the tradition of Kevin Macdonald's "Touching the Void," the filmmaker combined 45% archive footage and 20% gripping reenactments using CG--along with interviews--to seamlessly blend a thrilling doc about the lure and elation of climbing K2, which straddles the Himalayas between Pakistan and China, and the terrible dangers even for the strongest experienced climbers. One in four doesn't survive the descent down the mountain. "It was too dangerous to go there," Ryan explained at a Sundance Film Festival Q & A. "It would put us in as much danger as the original climbers." He tried to blend the narrative between the archive footage and reenactments. It works. What happened in 2008 was. »

- Anne Thompson

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Kevin Macdonald
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