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 Post subject: Max Lowe: Torn (2021)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2021 8:16 pm 
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The suffering left in his wake by a professional adventurer who fell afoul of mother nature

On Oct. 5, 1999, legendary climber Alex Lowe, age 40, was tragically lost alongside cameraman and fellow climber David Bridges in a deadly avalanche on the slopes of the Tibetan mountain, Shishapangma. Miraculously surviving the avalanche was Alex’s best friend and climbing partner, renowned mountaineer Conrad Anker. After the tragedy, Anker and Alex’s widow, Jennifer, fell in love and married, and Anker stepped in to help raise Alex’s three sons. Torn will deliver a profoundly intimate look at the Lowe-Anker family using never-before-released archival footage of the ill-fated 1999 expedition, early footage of Alex and Anker as young climbers, personal home videos and strikingly candid interviews with the Lowe-Ankers, the film will follow Max in his quest to understand his iconic late father as he explores family’s complex relationships in the wake of his father’s death. Written and edited by Michael Harte. - Blurb, National Geographic .

Their bodies were found 16 years later. BBC News. When this happened his wife says it was like he cqme back to life. It reminds one of Andrew Haigh's film 45 Years.

one review on IMDb[ is in Estonian. Here is an English translation. It was made with the help of DeepL online translating software:

Max Lowe's first feature-length film, Torn ("The Tower"), is an extremely intimate look at the family left behind by the death of his father, Alex Lowe. One of America's most famous extreme athletes and adrenaline junkies, Alex Lowe was the first man to take mountaineering into the mainstream media, attracting sponsors and making TV appearances, interviews and more. The dangerous hobby became a profession and the ever-increasing ambition (and the dangers) made people question - is it all worth it when you've got a wife and three kids at home? Alex's answer was simple - it's in his nature and he can't change it.

Synopsis (PÖFF). This was the case on 5 October 1999 with legendary mountaineer Alex Lowe, who tragically died in the mountains of Tibet. Alex's best friend Conrad Anker miraculously survived. In the aftermath of the tragic accident, Conrad and Alex's widow and sons had to rebuild their lives, but what once fell apart may never be the same again.

Torn is a compelling documentary because it frames a story that probably no one else will ever be able to tell again. Because Alex Lowe was so famous, he was always accompanied by a camera or even a film crew, so the man's life in the mountains is well captured to the bitter end. And the twists and turns of this story, such as the discovery of the man's body 17 years later with a working camera, provide plenty of material around which to build a decent story.

Although Torn is really the director's own effort to remember his lost father, to tell his story, he himself remains behind the camera. He doesn't take over the story but allows his mother, brothers and father's best friend (and foster father) to tell it. The story is divided into three parts - first introducing the sport of mountaineering and Alexi Lowe's role in its development, in the media and beyond. The second part is about the family after the death of the man and Alex's role being passed on to his best friend Conrad Anker, and the final part is about the finding Alex Lowe's body and dealing with this discovery. Each third is an episode with a different tone, so they could be taken as episodes in a miniseries.

The first third is a classic personality-focused talking-head doc in which the details unique feature as a climber was not only his skill and accomplishment; the family waiting for him at home is highlighted. Other famous mountain climbing names were unmarried, uprooted people who deliberately defied death by not forming close social ties, but Alex was not deterred. We can see the hardship of Alex Lowe's chosen path for his wife and children. In the end it is only the eldest son who has any strong memories of him at all.

The second third turns accusatory in tone, showing how filmmaker Max Lowe sees his mother and stepfather Conrad. Only months after Alex's disappearance, Conrad is already having an affair with his best friend's wife, and this raises many questions. There's even a point in the film where a tearful Max asks his mother, "How can a person fall in love again only a few months after losing the love of their life?" What the mother answers is left for the viewer to discover. The episode in this story is a little reminiscent of Netflix's investigative documentaries, but only indirectly so, as the younger brothers only know one father - and that's Conrad. Thus, two conflicting points of view - Conrad as the intruder to the eldest son, but as the rescuer and necessary male role model for his two younger brothers.

The final third breaks the formula and allows the camera to look at the bigger picture. Now the whole family is in focus. Time spent together is in focus. We see in detail how Alex is found and how the family copes. What will be discovered about the camera he was carrying? There are quite a few tear-jerking moments, especially for the parents. We get to see Alex's legacy in the sport of climbing and we also get a chance to understand the decisions Conrad made. In the end, this is a story of three people - Max, Alex and Conrad.

The title Torn is not just a reference to the family, but to Max's own condition throughout the film. On the one hand, he believes that his father loved them all, yet he couldn't stay home with them. On the one hand, he loves his stepfather and is grateful to him, but on the other hand, he still hasn't forgiven him for grabbing everything his father owned so quickly. Conrad is happy to have found a family, but he is still in Alex's shadow and feels he will stay there forever. And that's what this film is about. Unexpectedly intimate, sometimes even too much so. Not all the tears here are earned, but every minute is made with real feeling. A poetic and fitting end for a man who has lived life to the full. A definite recommendation. Score: 8.5/10

Torn, 92 mins., was to be first seen in the cancelled 2020 Telluride festival, but debuted instead Sept. 2021 at Telluride, also showing at Camden. A National Geographic film, it releases Dec. 3, 2021 in New York and Dec. 10 in Los Angeles.


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