Boulder Movies

Friday, August 12 by Elizabeth Stewart

Boulder movies are exciting and suspenseful dramatic narratives that are either fiction or based on true stories. They are often very inspiring, telling stories of the struggle for survival and the triumph of the human spirit against insurmountable odds.

"127 Hours"

Danny Boyle of “Slumdog Millionaire” fame directed this drama based on the real life story of Aron Ralston. Played by James Franco, Ralston was canyoneering near Moab, Utah when a boulder got loose, pinned his arm and trapped him for 127 hours. Losing all hope of being found, Ralston examines his life and records his thoughts on the video camera he brought until he musters the resolves to literally cut himself from his condition. 

"K2"

This 1991 adventure film by Franc Roddam tells the story of two friends and their attempts to conquer the second highest mountain peak on earth, K2. Many accidents can happen at 28,250 feet and friends Taylor Brooks and Harold Jamison found that out the hard way.

"Vertical Limit"

Chris O’Donnell plays avid rock climber and boulderer Peter Garrett. When he discovers that his sister Annie is trapped at a mountain near K2, he assembles a climbing team to save her.

"Cliffhanger"

Sylvester Stallone is Gabe Walker, a former ranger dealing with the death of his friend after a climbing accident. Gabe and his partner must rescue a group of stranded climbers on the same peak only to realize that the men are in reality hijackers. The scenes of Stallone climbing boulders, overcoming freezing weather and fighting the antagonists received critical nod, including Academy Award nominations for Best Sound, Visual Effects and Sound Effects Editing.

"Touching the Void"

This inspiring and suspenseful film from “Last King of Scotland” director Kevin MacDonald combines compelling reenactments with interviews. “Touching the Void” is a docudrama about Simon Yates who fell on the west face of Siula Grande in the Andes. His climbing partner Joe Simpson had no choice but to leave him in order to survive. Simon then musters all his will to climb over boulders, overcome fatigue and hunger, and crawl beside crevices in order to make it back to camp.

"Blind Sight"

Lucy Walker directs this heartfelt documentary movie about six blind Tibetan teenagers as they attempt to scale Lhakpa Ri on the north side of Mount Everest. At 23,000 feet, the blind Tibetans solicit the aid of veteran climber Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to climb Everest.

"180 Degrees South"

A powerful story of adventure full of beautiful cinematography of boulders, waves, oceans and mountain peaks. Jeff Johnson and his friends were inspired by Yvon Chouinard's 1968 van trip to Patagonia, South America and attempts to recreate both the route and adventure.

"Alaska"

The bond between father and sons is the essence of this movie. Teenagers Sean and Jessie embark on a rescue mission after their father's plane crashes in the Alaskan mountain range. The boys overcome huge boulders, below zero temperatures and other harsh elements in their attempts to save him.

"Subzero"

This espionage thriller tells the story of expert climbers on a mission to retrieve a high-risk satellite containing classified information. They hurdle snow, slippery boulders and eminent danger from Russian terrorists.

“Climb Against the Odds”

Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis narrates this 1999 film by directors Karen Carlson and Steve Michelson. This documentary movie follows twelve women, five of which are breast cancer survivors, as they attempt to climb North America’s highest peak, Mount McKinley in Alaska.