On January 11, 2007, Andrew McAuley set out on his quest to become the first person to kayak from Australia to New Zealand across one of the wildest and loneliest stretches of ocean on Earth. On February 9, New Zealand maritime authorities received his distress call. Having survived a harrowing and torturous month at sea, conquering monstrous swells and terrifying storms, McAuley lost his life only a day from completing his journey. His body was never recovered, but the camera tapes from his kayak were and they form the basis of this moving and questioning portrait of a complex man, his family, his supporters and his attempt to conquer the ferocious Tasman Sea. Written by
Amazing Tale of a Solo Kayak Adventure on the High Seas
Michôd and Peedom's hour-long documentary recounts the tale of Andrew McAuley, an Australian adventurer who, in 2006, launched a quest to become the first person to paddle a kayak across the treacherous Tasman Sea, one of the loneliest and toughest stretches of water in the world.
Obviously, the story itself is both amazing and remarkably sad. The documentary begins by introducing McAuley - a heroic, adventurous and fatalistic figure who wouldn't be out of place in the films of Werner Herzog - as well as his wife and young son, friends and supporters.
With shades of Kevin McDonald's 2003 feature documentary Touching the Void, this well crafted Australian documentary tells a remarkable and tragic story in a fascinating and engaging manner and Michôd and Peedom approach the documentary with a steady enough hand. They recount the story with a mixture of original footage and interviews, in manner perhaps befitting the sombre and serious tone of McAuley's story. Yet it's hard to feel that, given both the length of the piece and its over-reliance on talking heads, subtle fades and straight-forward storytelling, that it is anything more than a fairly run-of-the-mill TV doco in the realm of ABC-TV's popular and successful series 'Australian Story'. That said, the strength of the material and the measured approach from the directors, means that Solo has rightfully gained an audience around the world, featuring among film festival programmes from Adelaide to Sheffield to Toronto and appearing on prime-time television on BBC 2.
15 of 16 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?