Two famous competitive climbers make a bet on who can climb Cerro Torre, one of the most dangerous mountains in Argentina and the world, first. As the day of the climb approaches, their increasing competitiveness becomes destructive.
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A meeting of two world famous climbers, one an experienced mountaineer (Roccia), the other a sport climber (Martin), results in a bet on which of the two is the best climber. Roccia states that Martin wouldn't survive on a 'real' climbing expedition, although he is the indoor 'world champion'. Then they both plan to climb the 'Cerro Torre' in the Patagonia region of South America, near the Argentinian/Chilean border, one of the world's most difficult mountains, especially considering the extreme weather conditions in the area. The journalist Ivan, using the rivalry for media exploitation, is joining them and reporting. The rivalry among the two men results eventually in the death of a common friend. Martin claims to have been at the top of 'Cerro Torre', but can't proof it. Then Martin 'steals' Roccia's girlfriend (Katrina), who feels lonely and under appreciated by Roccia. After some time the two men meet again at 'Cerro Torre' and the rivalry results in a 'climb against time' in ... Written by
Herzog's least impressive work. Somewhat good though.
Definitely one of the least interesting works of Werner Herzog but even so, as one fellow critic noted, even his failures are epic and he makes something good out of them. Once again he explores the conflict between man versus nature, the conflict of man against others and also against himself. While he treats the first in a good way, the second and the third are displeasing, flawed and lacking in depth which drags down most of the film almost downhill, or better saying down the mountain.
Climbing the Cierro Torre, all the way up to the top they go. Who's they? One veteran climber (Vittorio Mezzogiorno), one acrobat/wall climber (Stefan Glowacz) trying the impossible for the first time going in one of the most difficult mountains of all, located in Patagonia (3000 meters, which is way shorter than the Everest but still a giant task), fighting against each other for the top of the mountain and for a woman's heart (she is played by Mathilda May). And their duel is followed by a sports reporter (Donald Sutherland) who thinks he's about to cover the event of the century. Plot twist: it looks like someone already had been there but can we trust this guy (Brad Dourif) who says he has left four fingers in there? Maybe...
The problem with "Scream of Stone" is to be uninteresting and flat while dealing with themes that are better presented in other movies. The fight between fearless arrogance and defiance versus experience and talent is overdone, and it's not that brilliant in here. He doesn't bring profundity to any of those themes. The ethical aspect when it comes to present facts versus doubts, introduced when the younger guy claims to have been at the top of the Scream of Stone, was almost fascinating. He was questioned by the reporters and true professionals, and out of this moment of his being cornered, having nowhere to go, he accepts the challenge and goes again to the mountain. But even so, Herzog doesn't bring excitement neither to the story and neither to the climbing scenes, the adventure stays too much in the background while the characters are carelessly brought to the foreground but you can't relate with them for too long. The whole set up involving the female going from climber to the other doesn't convince, it's too simplistic and it's only used as a device for the upcoming third act (which works). I mean, she just happen to fall for the winners. You don't get the sense that she loves one or the other.
It never reaches the splendorous, poetic and powerful images of "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" or "Fitzcarraldo" but there's beauty in some of them - the mountain has a gorgeous peak, magnificently visualized in the few aerial shots. The cast makes this worthwhile, specially the actor who plays the experienced alpinist. Overall, it's fine, Herzog is working with something he's very familiar with, to being aware of our ambitions and to conquer them regardless of consequences, living the dream even if they look like a nightmare. Just hoped this could be more impressive. 6/10
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