As a relative newcomer to the world of climbing films, the name Chuck Fryberger was a new (and, I'll be honest, amusing) name to me. Learning that he was the producer of Dosage V made a lot of sense, as this offering is very similar in format to all the Dosage films i.e. 6 “trips” (as opposed to doses) to various bouldering destinations around the world.
Pure is a bouldering-only video, but don't let this put you off. It's a first-rate flick, excellently, often beautifully filmed and several scenes have a very aesthetic arty look about them, easily one of the prettiest climbing films I've seen.
Shot on 35mm digital format, which is apparently cutting edge – I'll admit to being relatively naive about such things – the video is available on DVD or Hi-Def (720p) download. Given the quality of the footage and the obvious quality increase of hi-def, I'm surprised no Blu-Ray disc is on offer, as with other films; King Lines, Sharp End, Progression to name a few – shot in HD, but no Hi-Def disc-version available. Probably a cost/demand thing, but it seems a shame to not show these films off to their full potential unless you're watching on a PC. Anyway, I digress...
“The second minor-gripe was the male dominance of the film.”
The main-man of the film is Nalle Hukkatavial, I guy I'd heard a lot about but hadn't really seen much of. An excellent climber and evidently a nice person too. He interviews well and I can see him becoming another mainstay of the climbing film industry. Speaking of which, Sharma is in the film for about 2 seconds (in the background of a competition) and Dave Graham is only mentioned with regards to the Island. It must be one the few recent US films not to feature either of these and it was quite refreshing, much as I like them both.
Other climbers include the well-known Kevin Jorgeson and Fred Nicole as well as relative newcomers (to me at least) Cody Roth, Kilian Fischuber, Anna Stoehr and several others. This leads me on to my first of very few gripes. Quite a few times, the video would flash up names and nationalities of climbers, but it didn't seem to actually show them climbing, which made you wonder why they'd introduced them. Equally sometimes a previously un-seen climber would be climbing a problem and you were left wondering who it was. Admittedly not a major thing, but strange nonetheless. Either a fair amount of climbing was chopped in the editing suite but names were left in, or they were just keen to drop several names in to boost the body count. The third possibility is that I was just very unobservant and missed who was climbing what, but my girlfriend noticed it too.
“Beautifully shot, new and interesting climbers, lovely areas”
The second minor-gripe was the male dominance of the film. I know bouldering is pretty heavily skewed in the male:female ratio, but I think it's good to showcase female climbers. Partly as this might help bring more ladies into the sport, but also as I find them very interesting to watch, often as excellent examples of technique over power (how often do you see girls campus moves?). I think there were 3-4 problems climbed by 2 women ( A third lady was introduced, but we didn't actually see her climb...)
The destinations for the trips include the standard classics; Font, Rocklands and Magic Wood as well as Arco (for the Rock Masters bouldering competition), Innsbruck, California and Colorado.
Having recently watched Between the Trees (shot in Font) and Progression (which has a long section in Rocklands) I think it highlights how good the film-makers are to show these in a new and entertaining light, especially given they often feature the same problems.
Personally I found the Kevin Jorgeson section about exploring Sonoma County in California the weakest of the trips, but it was by no means bad enough to merit skipping. I'll confess to being a little bit ignorant of the importance of Fred Nicole, but the sections of him climbing were pretty inspirational, though at times came a little bit close to hero-worship (Which may be justified, as I said, I don't really know of him).
All sections succeed in being entertaining, inspirational - Innsbruck is now on the places to visit, motivational - immediately wanted to get out and climb, educational - I now know who Fred Nicole is and have plenty of beta for The Island in Easter... and good looking.
The pace of the film is good, with interview sections nicely breaking up the climbing action – though at times these are a little contrived and heavily primed for the interviewee to use the word “Pure” as often as possible.
Compared to say, Between the Trees, which whilst an excellent Font/bouldering film is mostly about the problems, I don't think many non-boulders would enjoy it. Pure on the other hand would be enjoyed by non-bouldering climbers (certainly) and probably even non-climbers, it really is that pretty. You could almost imagine it being shown on a plasma TV in some trendy bar. They could even leave the soundtrack running as it's very good and covers a broad but always fitting range of genres.
Other weak points? Aside from those discussed above, I really can't think of any. I'd almost question the need to break up the film into trips as opposed to leaving it as full-length feature as it flows along very well, but it doesn't detract from the film in anyway either.
So all in all – two thumbs up. Beautifully shot, new and interesting climbers, lovely areas, moments of excitement, moments of fun and highly re-watchable.
9/10 (Possibly 8/10 if you're not that into bouldering)
I'd almost give it 9.5/10 – but I gave Progression 9/10 and I think Progression is a slightly better film, purely as it offers a bit more variety, it's very close however.
- More info on this film at Bouldering.com