Well Worth a Look
I have been anxiously awaiting the next Sharron/Martin Irish mountain movie for some months, and found my heart thumping in anticipation when I spotted word of the new arrival. The Sheeffrys are right up there in the top bracket of Irish walks, and I knew that I could rely on the seasoned pair to produce something special. I was not disappointed.
While both names appear on the credits I see that Sharron is solely credited as "Producer" and if this means that she was also the "Director" this may reveal something of the individual tastes of our most prolific team. The usual 3D mapping intro, setting out precise details of the route, with a solemn voiceover from Martin, is absent on this occasion. While this upset my inner "nerd" and made me run for a map after the first viewing, I can honestly say that the artistic quality of the work was considerably enhanced by the omission, and if the team is to return to such mapping denouements, in future works, it may be preferable to leave the mapping data until just before the final credits. Anyone using the videos for route preparation will be watching on more than one occasion, and therefore will be well able to enjoy the spectacle first, and then absorb the details. But each video stands on its own feet, and whether there is a route outline "before during or after", or not all, the exercise will still be very worthwhile.
I believe that Sharron and Martin have been influenced, consciously or unconsciously, by Gerry McVeigh's attention to beautifully filmed close up shots of plants, animals, pools and other small things because their stunning Sheeffry intro has both panoramas and wonderfully crafted and carefully edited detail. These features have always been there, but , on this occasion, I believe the cinematographers have excelled themselves.
Now I have always believed that music maketh the movie, and in this case, the choice adds hugely to the mood and pace of the piece. As the pair begin their ascent of Tawnyard the orchestra is playing The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams. There is a quality of wistful transcendence in the images and sound that harmonises beautifully with the somewhat sombre weather, and Martin and Sharron seem less hurried on their ascent than is their wont. The ensemble, to my mind, is something that will outlive us all, and will be viewed with a certain nostalgia by our successors.
But Vaughan Williams gets short shrift and within minutes, the team is on Barrclashcame and everything livens up. The Spirit of Life by Blackmill is the musical backdrop for an extended consideration of the mysteries of Doolough, Mweelrea and surrounds. Sharron managed to grab some "helicopter" type shots of Martin perched perilously over Doolough, feeding himself. However she did it, the result is a synopsis of what Irish hillwalking is all about...Mysterious clouds drifting by, followed by startling vistas that take the breath away.
I enjoyed Sharron's accelerated ascent of the dangerously steep rocky return to Barrclashcame from B'came North West Top (accelerated in the editing after the event rather than in the actuality!). These diversions are only possible when the music is right, and it was upbeat and held everything together nicely .
Our team forsook their normal "summit stills" ( a freeze frame of the couple beaming at each top) for more naturalistic shots of one or both walking to the the trig points. I'm perfectly happy with the stills or without them. I simply note the experiment with new approaches.
The long, but mostly relatively flat, ridge walk from Barrclashcame to Tawny Rower is carefully filmed and will whet the appetites of you all. Endless panoramas. Great fun to watch.
The final descent sees the music cooling a little with a change to Enigmatic Encounter (by ATB and Enigma) and I wondered if there might have been a hidden message for us all there somewhere?
Make time for this very fine movie. It deserves to be watched on many occasions. We owe a great deal to Martin and Sharron, and the Gerry McVeighs of this world. All their wonderful movies will remain in place "for the long nights after Samhain" when the days are short and we dream of the sweet hills.