Groundbreaking producers Josh Lowell of Big UP Productions and Peter Mortimer of Sender Films have teamed up to create KING LINES, pushing climbing films to a new dimension (and winning an Emmy Award in the process). Filmed on location in Spain, France, California, Venezuela, Greece, Utah, and Mallorca, KING LINES captures Chris Sharma's most outrageous ascents and visionary projects, and explores his fascinating lifestyle as a nomadic professional climber and global citizen. Dani Andrada, Dave Graham, Ethan Pringle, Melissa Lacasse, Jibe Tribout, and other outstanding climbers are also profiled.
Crikey, the media world moves quickly these days! Here I am writing a review of King Lines when it seems to have been around for ages. As soon as anything happens in the climbing world it's discussed and dissected in forums the world over, seemingly within minutes. In the case of DVDs the publishers and producers themselves add to the hype with trailers and tasters before launch date in which, invariably, the films look good with fast paced action and faced paced music to get us excited. It's rare for the final film to live up to the excitement of these tasters but I'm happy to report that King Lines does.
Pornography is supposed to show the sort of sex life we would be having in an ideal world. On film sex is always more exotic, involves better looking people and is more readily available than in our own hum drum worlds. So it is with this film, this is pure climbing porn and offers us a glimpse of what our climbing lives would be like in a perfect world. The film starts with Chris Sharma being flown about in a private plane to scope out new lines in Greece! After duly finding an unclimbed cave our hero steps off a speed boat to begin the climb, and such are the production values of the film that only the absence of a tuxedo reminds us that we are watching a climbing film and that Sharma hasn't actually morphed into James Bond. As he inches higher up what looks like a five star route in a five star location the build up, Sharma's flamboyant climbing style and his power screams all combine to draw the audience in so that we find ourselves willing him on and breathing a sigh of relief as he latches the final jug. This sort of viewer involvement is a rare feat in climbing films and is one of the things that sets this film apart.
It looks like pure fantasy but this is the life Chris Sharma actually leads and this film is as much about him as it is about the routes he climbs. We see him flying from location to location, effortlessly dispatching routes, chatting up chiquitas at airports and generally being incredibly gifted and popular. There is a mini biopic midway through which borders on the sycophantic. And yet, despite my arch cynicism and seething jealousy, I couldn't help but warm to Sharma and even found this section enjoyable, although I'm not sure it would bear repeated viewings.
Although King Lines is in the plural in the film title the recurring theme of the film is the Es Pontas arch in Majorca, a project which neatly succumbs in the last section of the DVD. Before the successful redpoint we get to see him making many committed attempts with lots of spectacular falls into the sea from a high dyno and an even higher crux. These sequences are notable not only for the spectacular footage but also the degree of effort Sharma puts into the route – truly inspiring. Between attempts on the route we see lots of fantastic footage of Sharma climbing a new, superb looking route on Ceuse, going bouldering to an undeveloped area atop a tepuis in Venezuela, winning a bouldering comp in Spain and working a truly breathtaking project on Clark Mountain. If you haven't seen pictures of the latter then this section is worth the admission alone. Again the massive whippers are entertaining and the sheer exertion he puts in to each attempt should be enough to motivate anyone to try that little bit harder when they next visit the crag.
When the Es Pontas project is finally put to bed I was left feeling
that it was a well deserved success for both climber and film maker, this
is a brilliant film, up to the high standards Big Up productions have
set themselves and anyone without a copy already should be hoping Santa
puts one of these in their stocking on Christmas Eve.
View the King Lines trailer here
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UKC Articles and Gear Reviews by Ashley Lewis - UKC Film Reviewer: