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Broad Peak Review: Leszek Dawid's film is a heart-rending journey of a mountaineer to reclaim his self respect

After climbing the Broad Peak mountain in the Karakoram on the border of China and Pakistan, Polish mountaineer Maciej Berbeka learns that his journey to the summit is incomplete. 25 years later, he sets out to finish what he started.

3/5rating
Broad Peak Review: Leszek Dawid's film is a heart-rending journey of a mountaineer to reclaim his self respect
A poster of Broad Peak
  • P Sangeetha

Last Updated: 04.38 PM, Sep 14, 2022

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Story: Polish mountaineer Maciej Berbeka learns that his journey to the summit has been incomplete after an arduous climb to the Broad Peak mountain. But when he gets an opportunity to reclaim his self respect two decades later, he sets out to finish what he started.

Review: The year is 1988. A bunch of Polish winter high-altitude mountaineers are trying to climb the mighty K2, the second highest mountain on the earth after Mount Everest. But the expedition hits a roadblock when the weather turns extremely harsh. Not the ones to give up and return home empty-handed, Maciej Berbeka and Alek Lwow ask their expedition leader Andrzej Zawara if they could scale the nearby Broad Peak instead.

What we see later is a climb so arduous that it makes us wonder why anyone would attempt such madness risking their lives. Berbeka falls down from a rope, gets caught in a blizzard and eventually is buried under thick mounds of ice. He finds it hard to breathe and move his leg. But, he survives it all! After all, he believes that he has reached the summit. But when he descends to the base, the expressions of his teammates give away that there's something wrong. And our guess is proved right! We learn that Berbeka didn't really make it to the summit. He was barely 17 meters away from the peak but his teammates didn't divulge the information as the attempt would mean Berbeka risking his life. We soon realise that the film is not about mountaineering but a story of regaining one's self respect and self esteem.

The incident changes Berbeka's life forever. Years later, when Berbeka reveals in an interview that all his hard work was for nothing, we empathise with him with every corner of our heart. And 25 years later, when he decides to finish what he started, we understand how important it is for him to redeem himself. His family, too, has not had it easy, but they are understanding and are a huge pillar of support to him during the 25 years when he battled the feelings of betrayal, frustration, loneliness and basically living a lie. 

The dialogues are minimal, and there are a lot of silent moments in Broad Peak and emotions are on a roll during those periods. When Berbeka fills with rage after he learns about the 'betrayal' and descends into an emotional hell, we completely empathise with what he is going through. The chemistry between Ireneusz Czop, who plays Berbeka and Maja Ostaszewska, who essays the role of his wife Ewa, feels so real that when they understand each other's silences, we too, are able to have a conversation with them. Ewa always knew that one day Berbeka would go back to the Broad Peak and instantly agrees when Berbeka gets an opportunity years later.  

The cinematography is excellent. The scenes look natural and the never-ending snow ramps over the towering mountains gives us the magnitude of the expedition. When the camera pans over Berbeka making him look like a tiny speck on a mighty mountain, it gives us a glimpse of the grit and determination of the mountaineer. We also get a peek of the state of the minds of the climbers, giving us pictures of what's going on inside the.

The film aptly captures the '80s in the beginning and the mountaineering equipment used at that point of that time and the challenges endured. Mountains were harder to climb and mountaineers had to battle their inner turmoils while at it. The years effortlessly segue into 2013 and we see mountaineering expeditions looking a tad easier and the equipment, too, looking different. The film might seem a tad slow at certain places, nevertheless, is only a minor glitch in an otherwise well-made film.

Verdict: Broad Peak is an engaging drama that ends up disturbing you emotionally. Go for it!

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