Review: ‘To the Limit’

Taking auds where its title promises, "To the Limit" is a visually breathtaking essay about daredevils hooked on the thrill of speed rock-climbing.

Taking auds where its title promises, “To the Limit” is a visually breathtaking essay about daredevils hooked on the thrill of speed rock-climbing. Focusing on renowned German team Thomas and Alexander Huber, helmer Pepe Danquart (“Hell on Wheels”) sends extreme sports buffs to heaven and keeps general viewers engaged by placing his cameras in positions as perilous as those of his subjects. Docu grossed a tidy $1.5 million in limited German release and has niche potential elsewhere. Tube and ancillary prospects are sky-high.

“An assault against common sense,” is how Alexander Huber describes the feats for which he and brother Thomas have become famous. The duo are shown training for a record-breaking assault on the El Capitan peak in California’s Yosemite National Park. The 3,000-foot ascent takes most mortals three days to complete: These guys aim to scamper up in 2½ hours. Producing you-are-there excitement reminiscent of “Touching the Void,” “Limit” is nimbly balanced with insights into the appeal of this death-defying pursuit and gradual revelations about the siblings’ intense professional rivalry. Vibrant, eclectic score by Christoph Israel and Dorian Cheah rounds out a first-class tech package.

To the Limit

Germany-Austria

Production

A Hager Moss Film, Quinte Film (Germany)/Lotus Film (Vienna) production, in association with Filmfoerderungsanstalt, FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, Oesterreichisches Filminstitut, with the support of Bayerischen Rundfunk, Arte and Osterreicischen Rundfunk (International sales: Telepool, Munich.) Produced by Kirsten Hager, Erich Lackner, Mirjam Quinte. Directed, written by Pepe Danquart.

Crew

Camera (color, Super 16, HD-to-35mm), Wolfgang Thaler; editor, Mona Brauer; music, Christoph Israel, Dorian Cheah. Reviewed at Brisbane Film Festival (World Cinema), Aug. 9, 2007. German, English dialogue. Running time: 100 MIN.

With

Thomas Huber, Alexander Huber, Dean S. Potter, Chongo.
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