Leszek Dawid’s Broad Peak follows the true story of a Polish mountaineer Maciej Berbeka (Ireneusz Czop) to climb a dangerous peak in the middle of winter. It’s a gripping tale of a man who, despite the challenges and near-death experience that he faced, faces the ultimate test of patience and strength. His obsession leads to an ultimate conclusion of whether he will or won’t reach the top of Broad Peak. There’s always something endearing and timeless about a mountaineering or adventure film that gets into the depths of the character’s journey. Broad Peak is one of those movies that shows how it stands out from the rest, and perhaps not for all good reasons.
The film begins with Maciej and his team attempting to climb the perilous Broad Peak in the middle of winter. As the team realises that not everyone can make it to the top, Maciej and another team member decide to climb the summit. But his team member turns around and leaves when the weather gets rough, leaving Maciej to climb it alone. He reaches the summit successfully, or so he thinks. While Maciej climbs down the summit back to the base, he gets stuck in a blizzard and decides to stay there until the weather clears. As the hours go by, he starts losing sensation in his legs and fears that he might have hyperthermia. When he returns home, he is a hero who accomplished an incredible summit. Months later, Maciej receives news that his accomplishments might not be successful after all and vows never to go mountaineering again. Decades later, Maciej makes another attempt to climb Broad Peak, despite objections from his wife, Ewa (Maja Ostaszewska). This decision leads to devastating consequences, but Maciej simply cannot resist the temptation to climb one of the dangerous mountains.
The frustrating aspect of Broad Peak is that the movie doesn’t try to explain who Maciej is. In the first act, it dives into the 1980s climb to the summit and his attempts to survive. While the cinematography and landscape shots are breathtaking, the movie never really shows the viewer why Maciej wants to climb the top of the mountain. As a viewer, we know he is obsessed. He puts his family at risk, and even in the face of death, there isn’t any kind of regret from him. Maciej does what he does for the adrenaline, and it’s something that keeps him excited. The lack of characteristic journeys not being explored in the movie makes it harder for the viewer to connect with Maciej’s dreams. He barely emotes any feelings, which makes it hard to understand him.
Broad Peak is an incredible story, and it’s one of those movies that would be better with a documentary. Maciej’s second attempt was successful. He died on the mountain doing what he loved. Whether this journey is brave or heartbreaking, the movie brings an epic mountaineering movie. However, Broad Peak doesn’t have the emotional journey that it desperately needs to make Maciej’s outcome a heroic or heartbreaking moment.