Friday, November 16, 2012

A good way to spend an hour and a half...

If you've ever wanted to just take off and go somewhere completely new to you, just to have the adventure, I've found the documentary for you.

It's called 180 South (Magnolia Films, 2010) and follows the adventures of Jeff Johnson as the attempts to recreate the 1968 journey of Yvon Chounard and Doug Tompkins to Patagonia, at the bottom of South America. Johnson discovered film footage taken by Chounard and Tompkins on their trip and was inspired to follow their footsteps and see were it led him.

It all started when Chounard and Tompkins, who the film doesn't ever tell you are the founders of the companies Patagonia and The North Face, respectively, were living in Ventura, California in 1968 and decided they wanted to go see what Patagonia (the geographical region) was all about. They took off in a van, surfboards and climbing equipment in tow, with only two weeks' preparation.

Johnson, on the other hand sailed from Mexico and ended up shipwrecked for over a month on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) when the boat he was crewing on snapped its mast. But he finally made it to Patagonia and met Chounard and Tompkins there, with the goal of recreating their ascent of Cerro Corcovado.

I won't tell you what the outcome of that task was. You'll have to see the film.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I feel bound to tell you that this isn't just an adventure film. Chounard and Tompkins have become dedicated to the preservation of the environment of Patagonia, and this effort is explored extensively in the film. The filmmakers have a point of view, and they don't make a secret of that fact.

They make a good case for the idea that not every square inch of the Earth has to be tamed, fenced off, tied up, and made part of some big company's revenue stream. It is a good point and should be made. That the film makes that point should not dissuade you from seeing the film, which is worth it just for the view of that part of the world, which I would be willing to bet that most of you don't know much about.

I thought I'd leave you with the trailer to the film, which, for those of you with access to Showtime OnDemand, is available through December 12.

If you don't like the environmental message, watch it for the pretty pictures.

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