Barry makes you feel as if you are there.
How could anyone do what these runners have done?
The Indian military said it couldn’t be done. The indigenous population wondered at the attempt Westerners were making to run 140 miles at such heights in three days. Dozens who signed up for the traverse declined after more research. Only three hardy souls ran the race.
Only one finished.
And Barry Walton captures it all.
Viewers’ interests are maintained by quick cuts from dialogue to action to background to interviews. The night shots are haunting.
And I have to say, as a viewer, the whole documentary made me a bit squeamish.
How can human beings endure such tremendous obstacles?
Death on the trail.
And why? Why would anyone want to take these chances? According to all the participants, there is something about the human spirit . . . a desire to test human possibilities . . . to become, as one journalist recounts, “something akin to a 21st century explorer.”
But what captured my attention the most was the 30 minute “making of” DVD.
It turns out that Barry Walton is the real marathoner.
Yes, athletes must maintain their level of physical abilities. Yes, they must traverse a formidable, imposing, death-defying feat of physical exertion. But it was Barry who spent four years of his life dedicated to the task of capturing the physical feat that took 3 days.
The preparation, planning, shortfall, physical limitations, financial impediments, sleep deprivation, “climatization” was truly what Barry refers to in the film as an act of “faith.” He had been rethinking his values in life. In his own words Barry “was in a place of searching for the right way.”
But what we discover is that Barry is just some guy, as he says, “with a little camera.”
Yes. I loved his work. Yes. The documentary was fabulous. Yes. I will never look at ultra-marathons the same way again.
But, honestly, as a creative person, I am blown away by Barry’s commitment to see the project through to the end. As he repeats in the “making of” DVD, “Greatness cannot be achieved without struggle.”
What was true for the one-of-a-kind-athletes is also true for the documentary’s creative genius: Barry Walton.
Barry was a student of mine in high school. Barry’s words also promote my latest book on movies. Yes, that is full disclosure. But neither of those episodes swayed my review. My words would have been the same if I had met Barry in film for the first time. Dr. Mark Eckel is president of The Comenius Institute, a non-profit serving the Indianapolis university community, connecting wisdom with life. Mark has brand new appreciation for those who traverse mountains, part of his recently received wisdom.
All photos are taken from “The HIGH: Making the Toughest Race on Earth.” http://thehighdoc.com/