Capturing Everest’s Compelling Magnificence and Hazard in ‘The Summit of the Gods’


In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay efficiently scaled Everest – the tallest mountain on this planet – and undoubtedly lit a fireplace within the hearts of obsessive mountain climbers across the globe. Since then, these 8,848 meters of treacherous snow and ice have completely ended the aspirations of even essentially the most expert of mountaineers; whereas practically 5,800 climbers have in the end conquered its summit, 300 have died throughout what proved their closing, grueling problem, our bodies hidden, maybe endlessly, now a part of Everest’s haunting however undeniably majestic terrain. 

This poses an apparent query: “Why climb Everest?” What’s it about this devilish Alp, and others prefer it, that drives individuals to dedicate their lives, at nice private threat, to climb an inhospitably chilly, lethal summit? It’s a query that not solely fascinated Baku Yumemakura, creator of the 1994 novel, “The Summit of the Gods,” but additionally Jirô Taniguchi, who created a five-volume manga adaptation in 2000.

It additionally took maintain of Jean-Charles Ostorero, co-writer and producer of the hauntingly stunning, 90-minute, 2D animated movie, The Summit of the Gods, which releases in theaters as we speak, November 24, and November 30 on Netflix. Directed by Patrick Imbert, co-director of The Massive Unhealthy Fox and Different Tales, the movie is produced by Ostorero, Stéphan Roelants and Didier Brunner, greatest recognized for the award-winning animated comedy The Triplets of Belleville and the following Ernest & Celestine. Imbert, Ostorero, and Magali Pouzol wrote the screenplay; Thibaut Ruby govt produced.

This award-winning story follows the journey of two characters: photojournalist Fukamachi Makoto and expert, however outcast, climber Habu Joji. Down on his luck and anxious for a narrative of substance, Fukamachi goes on a mission to find the elusive and forgotten Habu, solely to find that the climber might need in his possession the digital camera of George Mallory – a real-life Everest explorer who misplaced his life on the mountain in 1924 and who some say was the actual “first” to efficiently crest the summit. May that little Kodak digital camera reveal the reality?

In his quest to find Habu and uncover the thriller of Mallory’s ill-fated expedition, Fukamachi study’s of the reclusive climbers traumatic previous and finds that the one option to get solutions is to hitch Habu on a climb of Everest.

“The story’s query is, ‘Why can we do the issues we do? Why are these guys climbing?’” says Imbert. “And the reply is simply, they do it. That’s all. And it is a query I requested myself whereas engaged on this movie. Should you requested me why I draw, I wouldn’t have something to say. I draw as a result of it is my very own manner. And I hope this query can communicate to everybody on some stage.”

He provides, “The query of who reached the summit first, is only a option to begin the story. It is helpful at first and, little by little, Fukamachi will perceive that, as soon as he has the reply, it is not essential anymore. What’s essential isn’t discovering the reply. What’s essential is simply climbing.”


In 2001, the manga was awarded a prize for excellence by the Company for Cultural Affairs on the Japan Media Arts Pageant for the story’s illustrations of alpine environments round Asia and its breathtaking views of the Himalayas. And, when French writer Kana introduced the story to European audiences, Taniguchi was as soon as once more praised for the manga’s imagery, profitable the prize for greatest drawing on the Angoulême Pageant in 2005. So not solely did Imbert and his crew face the daunting activity of problem of tackling a deeply philosophical question–originally lined in 1,500 pages–in a restricted period of time, however in addition they needed to do justice to the charming visuals from Taniguchi’s manga.

“We paid plenty of consideration to each single element within the composition, as a result of these particulars are essential for resulting in this difficult feeling on the finish,” explains Imbert. “Making a film, after all, is troublesome. I imply, to attract so many drawings, that is our job. However to inform that story effectively together with your drawings, it is so troublesome.”

The Summit of the Gods movie – animated by Wolfwalker’s Paris-based producer Folivari – goals to convey to life what many people have solely ever seen in live-action movies or documentaries. Massive, creative landscapes of Asia’s most intense mountain ranges and summits, peaking by way of the clouds as snow blows throughout the display screen in menacing swirls. In fact, it’s not all so intimidating; the unimaginable sunsets and star-lit nighttime skies seize the mountains’ breathtaking magnificence, which is, in a phrase, heavenly. The movie expertly opens a window into this obscure, harmful but stunning world, serving to us perceive the enchantment of risking one’s life for a glimpse of the world from the best factors on earth. 

“Climbing is a really technical sport, and in addition these mountains are actual locations,” says Imbert. “What we present is actual. So, we had plenty of video references as a result of we can not even think about all the pieces. However, to me, it was inconceivable to rival the live-action as a result of, in these movies or documentaries, you’ve plenty of helicopter views or drone views that flip across the summits, which may be very superb. However since animation is flat, we can not do that. So, I did not ever need to attempt to do the identical. I believed to myself, ‘Let’s discover our personal manner.’”

At one level throughout early manufacturing, there was discuss of constructing Ostorero’s movie adaptation in 3D, moderately than 2D. “Simply because it’s technically very troublesome to attract due to all the small print, we thought of doing it in 3D,” notes Imbert. “However studio Folivari does not do any 3D, so we met another studios and we rapidly understood that American studios now have reached such high quality requirements in CG that, if you wish to do a superb CG animation, it is actually costly, and we did not have the funds for to do this. So we got here again to the 2D answer.”

Fortunately, Imbert’s 20 years of expertise in 2D animation helped in creating an bold, life like 2D look that elicits awe and excessive emotion from viewers. In spite of everything, it’s not simply mountains that Imbert needed to seize, but additionally the sense of hazard and peril that comes with climbing, falling from excessive heights and even slowly freezing to demise. Imbert says one of the vital difficult scenes to create was when one younger climber should make the selection to chop his personal rope and fall to his demise, moderately than threat the lifetime of his companion. 

“That is the final scene that I storyboarded as a result of it was so troublesome to search out the best stage for the immersion,” says Imbert. “It wanted sufficient, however not an excessive amount of. And this steadiness was actually laborious to achieve.”

Whereas Imbert needed to seize the essence of Taniguchi’s unique work, as beforehand defined, he nonetheless needed to search out his “personal manner” and personal model to convey the story to life with such visuals and landscapes. 

French Alpine Membership member Charlie Van Der Elst and Everest climber Vincent Vachette labored with Imbert and the crew in an advisory capability. They mentioned sensations of chilly, the deafening sound of the wind whereas sleeping beneath the tent, how knots are shaped, how one’s breath retreats at altitude, and extra – all useful data for Imbert, tasked with making a fantastical, however very actual world. And all on a funds.

“I’ve finished animation for a few years, and I do know precisely what each single motion can value,” says Imbert. “And I’ve to be frugal, but additionally attain the viewers and immerse them within the story. And I hope this may work, what we’ve finished. Typically, you’re in anguish concerning the outcomes, and also you don’t know if it’s going to work. However I feel this may work.”

Imbert provides that a bonus to his and Ostorero’s animation is that they’ll use each sight and sound to convey the bodily and emotional journey of Habu and Fukamachi. And it’s why the director is trying ahead to an precise theater launch.

“The sound is admittedly essential, and also you lose loads in the event you see it on a small pc display screen at dwelling, I feel,” says Imbert. “I need this to achieve the biggest variety of individuals as attainable.”

Sadly, one one who is not going to get the prospect to see the movie is Taniguchi himself. The manga creator handed away in 2017 however was in a position to see Imbert and Ostorero’s script shortly earlier than his demise and expressed pleasure about the place the 2 filmmakers had been taking his story.

After 4 years of labor, this story is able to be informed as soon as once more. And Imbert has two needs for the movie’s premiere. 

“First, I need audiences to have a superb time watching the film and to be touched,” he says. “And I do know it is not straightforward as a result of, more often than not, the viewers doesn’t go to see grownup animation motion pictures, which is certainly too unhealthy. However I hope they may climb that wall and open up sufficient to go and see this sort of film.”

He concludes, “And, second, I need them to carry onto what Fukamachi says on the finish of the movie, and know that there’s nothing to say, simply to do.”

Victoria Davis's picture

Victoria Davis is a full-time, freelance journalist and part-time Otaku with an affinity for all issues anime. She’s reported on quite a few tales from activist information to leisure. Discover extra about her work at


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