Chuck Fryberger's latest film is premiering at the Boulder Theater tonight so I thought I would give a quick review of it. I have been a big fan of his previous films, Pure and Core, films which garnered mixed reviews from audiences owing in part to Chuck's willingness to experiment with locations, filming techniques, and offbeat themes. With The Scene, those concerns can be set aside. Beautiful camera work, check. Hard routes and problems, check. Interviews with climbing stars, check. But aside from Dave Graham's segment, which is admittedly not very representative of the scene in Boulder (or anywhere else), the feel of the film is much more conventional than past efforts. I found it enjoyable to watch, for sure, but the dynamic visual and emotional range that Chuck has shown elsewhere is mostly absent.
The only scene that hinted at something more innovative, a bit darker and more interesting, was the opener for Bishop, but it's not developed. There are hints of something different in the profile of the comp/pro scene in Innsbruck, a sense of a vacuum beneath the logos, crowds and bright lights, a feeling that, like the slopers and crimps on the problems, the climbers are holding onto, well, nothing really. It is a relief to turn to the limestone around Innsbruck for a little while, though all too brief a while before we are back at a World Cup in Slovenia.
The segment on Spain seems to find its way more successfully than the others though again, there is this avoidance of any exploration of the meaning of all this activity, any searching for a deeper dimension. The potential for getting something more out of an aging Chris Sharma or Dani Andrada seems there but instead they are treated the same as the rest. Just climbers working their way up the chalk marks on a steep limestone wall, apparently with nothing else to do in life. Chris Sharma describes his life as a climber up to this point as mostly "passing through" and the feeling of the film is very similar. Climb a climb, get the word out to the public and sponsors, move on. To where? A muerte?