Last year's Set in Stone was a look at the enigmatic and rather unknown climbing phenomenon Dave Birkett. Psyche continues on its theme of looking at some of the best UK climbers by splitting the film into three different sections and profiling some of the strongest characters on sport, mountains & trad.
The first section, Magic Numbers, follows the climbing machine 'strong' Steve McClure who is by far the strongest sport climber Britain has ever produced but little has ever been shown of him on film until now. Psyche looks at some of Steve's major lines, Mutation 9a, Northern Lights 9a and a future project at Kilsney. The first few minutes is one of those sections of film where you just go 'wooahhh'. Posing Productions somehow managed to blag themselves a high definition camera (the ones used on major wildlife programs) and just seeing Steve climb through some boulder problems at Stanage is an amazing sight and surely the next level in climbing films.
Unfortunately this strength is also the films weakness as after setting this level of stunning camerawork and definition the rest of the film just cant compare. If the rest of the routes had been shot with this camera (nearly impossible due to the high level of technology involved) then you would have a section that would have been one of the best films in years. Saying that, the profile of Steve is a great insight into his groundbreaking routes and you do see why he is just so far above other top end UK climbers and it's no surprise that none of his routes have seen a repeat. It would have been nice to have seen more about Steve (similar to Dave Birkett in Set in Stone), to see how he ticks and how he manages to exist at this level living in the UK but that could & should be a film on its own.
The second section is Patagonian Winter and it is the outstanding bit of the whole film being a fantastic insight into the suffering, madness and skill needed to climb in the incredibly harsh Patagonian winter. What truly makes this section standout are the climbers, Andy Kirkpatrick & Ian Parnell, who really bring you into the challenge of climbing in a Patagonian winter. Andy sums it up by stating 'not many people go to climb in Patagonia in Winter, actually no-ones goes'. The hope of more stable weather takes the 2 so far south and the film follows their progress through the unseasonably warm, dangerous and intimidating Cerro Torre group.
The banter and self-film work is superb, showing the sheer scale and luck needed when facing these challenges. The slow oncoming of insanity as the weather closes will probably put anyone's thoughts of high mountain climbing to bed. A fantastic section that fully deserved its Kendal award for best adventure film.
The third section is Skye Wall and follows on from Set in Stone by showcasing Dave Birketts search for a stunning mountain trad line on the Isle of Skye. After getting a tip off about a wall in the Skye mountains the team follows Dave's climbing adventure on this mountain wall - the rock is a little fragile but offers a line of high quality. This section is a fine addition to the film and the insight into climbing a hard multipitch line on an outcrop far from the crowds of normal English crags.
Overall, Psyche is a fine addition to anyone's climbing film collection and Patagonian Winter is a fantastic bit of work that is certainly worth seeing. Magic Numbers will undoubtedly be the first of many features on Steve McClure while Skye Wall further enhances Dave Birkett as one of the UK's top trad climbers. The extras are excellent and certainly worth viewing showing Steve McClure on Mutation uncut, Dave Birkett on his new E9 in the lakes, the stupidly funny Andy Kirkpatrick's survival tips & much more.
Psyche sets itself such a high standard in the first three minutes with the high definition filming that it's hard not to think what Magic Numbers & Skye Wall would have been liked if filmed in this manner. With this kind of technology filtering down I'm already excited at what may come out of the Posing Productions stable.
Available to buy at Posing Productions website
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