Netflix’s Original Animation slate has been a stunning achievement. From anime series to narrative features like I Lost My Body the platform has been pushing the boundaries in telling animated stories that expand the stereotypical view of what stories can be told through the medium. The Summit of the Gods (Le sommet des dieux) is a French feature-length animation that adapts the manga series of the same name by renowned manga artist Jirô Taniguchi and writer Baku Yumemakura. With this adaptation we see an emotional look at nature, what it unlocks in us, and a mystery at the center. The film is directed and co-written by Patrick Imbert, co-written and produced by Jean-Charles Ostoréro, and features an atmospheric and moving original score by Amine Bouhafa.
In The Summit of the Gods, we follow a young Japanese photojournalist, Fukamachi, who finds a camera that could change the history of mountaineering. From that one object, we start a journey that leads him deep into the world of obsessive mountaineers. At the center of this journey is Habu, a mysterious climber believed to be missing for years.
With the drive to rewrite history, Fukamachi enters a world of obsessive mountaineers hungry for impossible conquests on a journey that leads him, step by step, towards the summit of the gods. His path to the top of Mt. Everest is a harrowing one that is cut with flashbacks to mysterious Habu’s life and ultimately the impact that mountaineering has on those who choose it as their life. And that’s the key, mountaineering isn’t a hobby or a profession, The Summit of the Gods explores how this is life. As a film, the danger and the beauty of the sport is on clear display as is the way that duality takes hold of climbers.
There are two ways that The Summit of the Gods hits its audience. The first and more recognizable is with its unique animation style that creates realistic landscapes and then lays simple stylized animated humans on top. In doing this, there the landscapes, the mountains, and nature itself is a character in and of itself. This beauty allows the audience to see the wonder of nature and as the film explores the obsession that climbing farther, higher, and more alone nurtures in people, it becomes a spectre.
In addition to the beautiful animation, it’s Habu’s backstory and his future that showcase the importance of letting yourself being consumed by what moves you. Mountaineering may be the setting of The Summit of the Gods but the takeaway is something more personal. Let your bliss wash over you, pursue it, but also understand the obsession that can come from that fulfillment.
The Summit of the Gods isn’t a feel-good story. It isn’t heartwarming, and in fact, it’s quite sad. But in that sadness exists as a capturing of the self. The bleak moments exist to showcase the power of nature and the drive towards bliss and succeed by leaving you speechless.
The Summit of the Gods is streaming now exclusively on Netflix.
Summit of the Gods
Summit of the Gods isn’t a feel-good story. It isn’t heartwarming, and in fact, it’s quite sad. But in that sadness exists as a capturing of the self. The bleak moments exist to showcase the power of nature and the drive towards bliss and succeed by leaving you speechless.