First, all of Poland lived this spectacle, death in the mountains, which was basically reported in the media, and then many people, even not necessarily interested in the mountains before, were looking for an answer to the question: “Why?”. Many people remember that story very well now. Therefore, Leszek Dawid’s film “Broad Peak”, which today appears on Netflix (you can also see it in cinemas), will surely be watched by a lot of people. Did the creators use the potential of this story? I have my doubts.
The action begins in Karakoram in 1988. We are on a Polish expedition that planned to make the first winter ascent to K2. Climbers, however, cannot cope with extremely difficult conditions, it is already known that they will not climb the second highest mountain in the world. Then one of them, Alexander Lvov, comes up with a crazy, it seems, idea. He wants to attack the nearby Broad Peak, which also did not have its first winter ascent at the time, is lower and has more humane weather conditions. He is joined by Maciej Berbeka, then one of the best Polish climbers. The leader of the expedition, Andrzej Zawada, agrees. They go up. The summit attack begins that will change Berbeka’s life forever.
If something is special about this film, it is the pictures, shot in the Karakoram at an altitude of over 5000 m above sea level and in the highest parts of the Alps, which is unique on a global scale. They make an impression: we see mountains that overwhelm them with their enormity, and the viewer, especially watching the film in the cinema, can feel as if he were there, among the heroes struggling with their power.
We see Berbeka, who thinks that he is on Broad Peak, and only later, after returning to Poland, will he learn from people whom he had as friends that he only climbed to the fore of Rocky Summit. The feeling of being hurt, but also the will to face this mountain again, will stay with him for years.
The filmmakers decided to focus on the character of Berbeka, which on the one hand is understandable, and on the other hand, such a focus on one person made the other characters the background here. It’s a pity. Łukasz Simlat perfectly recreates the character of Krzysztof Wielicki, but there is not much of him. There is no chance of creating such an expressive character as his stuttering sergeant Adam Mika from the “Rojst” series.
Playing Ewa Berbeka, Maciek’s wife, Maja Ostaszewska, sits at home and conducts rather general reflections on longing. Dawid Ogrodnik was engaged to recreate the figure of Adam Bielecki. We see him at the press conference before the 2013 expedition, but he only actually speaks once in the entire movie, despite being a key figure in understanding what was happening at Broad Peak after 25 years.
There are impressive pictures in this film, there is a story that people will be eager to reach, but there is no depth to the other characters and Berbeka’s dilemmas. In addition, while the beginning and the presentation of what happened in 1988 are still impressive, I do not fully understand why at the end of the film another expedition to Broad Peak is treated a bit neglectfully.
After all, it was there that a great drama took place that summed up the entire story, was ambiguously commented on, divided the mountain environment, and in the country sparked a nationwide discussion in which everyone became “experts” on mountaineering.
It’s good that this film was made, but I have an overwhelming impression that a lot more could be learned from this story.