Movie theater. “The Summit of the Gods”, graphic vertigo on the Roof of the World

Movie theater. “The Summit of the Gods”, graphic vertigo on the Roof of the World
Movie theater. “The Summit of the Gods”, graphic vertigo on the Roof of the World

To tackle in animation a high point of the manga, a work of the most French of Japanese mangakas, Jiro Taniguchi … a challenge all the more dizzying as the initial work was sketched in black and white and is now metamorphosed by color . But this breath of fresh air after confinement, this quest for Everest and identity, carries us effortlessly towards the Roof of the world to the rhythm of the wind, the mountains, the elements.

An obsession: to climb

The five volumes of the manga have been refined, a few characters deleted, scenes forgotten to better focus on two personalities, the mountaineer Habu with a tragic past, and a summit photographer, Fukamachi, fascinated by the peaks.

The taciturn Habu has only one obsession: to climb. A solid fellow with a raw heart, the silent only lives for the mountains, without attaching himself to his partners, nor feeling anything outside the ridges. A captain Ahab fighting Everest. Stubborn, bewitched, the journalist Fukamachi tracks him down, believing him to be the holder of a legendary camera: George Mallory’s Kodak Vest Pocket, disappeared a few meters from the summit of the gods. Did this legendary mountaineer reach Everest in 1924, long before the first to claim the ascent in 1953? The device could contain the last pictures of the roped party and, who knows, an image taken from the climax attesting… But is it just a camera that the young Fukamachi is looking for?

The gusts, the cold, the silence, the loneliness

Without pouring into the spiritual bistro, Patrick Imbert (Ernest and Celestine, Avril and the Rigged World, the Big Bad Fox, César 2018 for best animated film) lets nature speak, offers us incredible mountain landscapes, restoring the gusts, the cold, the silence, the loneliness. Time disappears. Despite his self-imposed realism, Patrick Imbert breathes new life into this epic, taking the time for contemplation and thus restoring the major trait of Jiro Taniguchi.

“The Summit of the Gods”, by Jiro Taniguchi (Kana editions).

It was in 1999 that the frail Japanese designer, who never climbed the mountain and only flew over Everest by plane, adapted this novel by Baku Yumemakura. The 1,700 pages appeared in a magazine, first as a serial signed by a renowned writer in Japan. However, his book will never be translated in France, but the manga version that he co-wrote with Taniguchi will open the borders to him.

Eight years of work

In France, Kana editions began to publish the work of five episodes in 2004: 380,000 volumes have been sold since. The following year, Taniguchi was rewarded at the Angoulême festival with the prize for best drawing. The work of the Japanese artist is particularly attractive in France: in 2003, the author was already praised by the comic strip festival for the screenplay ofDistant neighborhood. In 2011, he was made a Knight of Arts and Letters, then guest of honor at Angoulême in 2015, consecrated by a monumental exhibition. He died two years later, discreetly, in Japan, where he had never known the same success.

He barely had time to sell the rights for the 2D adaptation of his incredible journey over the ridges. The Neapolitan writer Erri De Luca, passionate about mountains, tried a first scenario, considered too dramatic. He will follow the adventure from afar. The others will continue, despite the confinement. After eight years of work, after a book, a graphic novel, animation extends the panorama of this grandiose epic.

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