The Summit of the Gods

By Eric Vallen

The Summit of The Gods, or the Le Sommet De Dieux, is a French animated film debuting on Netflix, precipitating the journey of a journalist, Fukamuchi, and a professional climber, Habu. At base value, these two characters are mirrors of each other in different environments. Fukamuchi and Habu both want the craziest headlines, one for anything he can get his hands on, and another for the most difficult climb ever achieved. 

In Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, Fukamuchi stumbles upon Habu, seeing he is in possession of an extremely old camera. Later, he receives a briefing from his bosses concerning the lost camera of George Mallory, A climber from the 1920s who may have reached the peak of Mount Everest. He connects the dots and sets out on his journey. For much of the movie, Fukamuchi’s selfishness defines his character, every action he takes has only one side, whether or not it benefits himself and the reaching of his goals. He quite literally felt no regard for others until he met Habu himself in the flesh.

Habu, in the same way as Fukamuchi, operates as a selfish character. He would always climb ahead of his partners, only using them as safety objects, rather than an actual, feeling person. He only snaps out of this when his replacement partner, a teenage boy obsessed with him dies on the mountain, performing a selfless act to make sure Habu could live. 

The concept of passed selflessness is one The Summit of The Gods takes full advantage of, which it will repeat to a certain extent in the relationship between Fukamuchi and Habu. The same story is told over and over between different characters, adding a strong sense of continuity to the movie. Furthermore, the film offers a unique perspective and commentary on the concept of a life’s purpose. You may not know your purpose, but life will lead you to it, and for good or worse, it will consume you. You must come to terms with that. 

Beyond themes and continuous concepts, the Summit of the Gods excels in cinematography. How can that be? You might say. Isn’t this an animated movie? Yes, and it’s beautiful. Rarely do you see such detailed fully drawn panels in anime-style animation. Nearly every single frame is hand-drawn and seamless. Many shots are perfectly set up to show the scale of the mountains and how terrifying it is to climb such monoliths. In fact, scale is a central element to the storytelling indicating a character’s feelings, especially isolation. Landscapes especially pop with the tiny speck of the character on them, and the nature aspect is extremely well done. Extraordinarily realistic, heavily detailed rains, snows, sleets, blizzards, etc, that truly bring the viewer to that mountain environment. 

Normally, voice acting generally holds little relevance in terms of the quality of an animated film. However, in this film, I think it adds so much to the richness of the film. The Summit of the Gods is a French film originally, and watching in french brings out so much more of the emotions in every scene. I find that the fluctuation of tones in French adds more weight to the words, and although you still have to read them in English through subtitles, the effect of the sound still plays a heavy part. 

All in all, The Summit of the Gods is one of Netflix’s best-animated works, a sad, but thrilling movie offering the highest quality animation, voice acting, and perhaps even storytelling one could come by.