No respect for ‘Eiger Sanction’ |

No respect for ‘Eiger Sanction’

I was somewhat bemused by Bruce Barcott’s characterization, in his piece about the making of “Touching the Void,” of the Clint Eastwood film “The Eiger Sanction” as being “respected by mountaineers.”

As it happened I paid a visit to its filming at the base of the Eiger. I was in the company of Jim Salter, who wrote “Down Hill Racer,” and a Chamonix mountain guide named Claude Jaccoux. We were doing research for a climbing film for Robert Redford. The film was never made.

In any event Eastwood had hired a very impressive group of climbers. Among them was the late Dougal Haston, then considered one of the best expeditionary climbers in the world, and Hamish MacInnes, who was noted for his work on mountaineering safety. The latter was important because there had already been one death.

The purpose of all of this was precisely to take all the danger and unpredictability out of the climbing scenes. They looked staged. I saw the finished film in the company of a large cadre of Chamonix guides who hooted derisively.

The best was the filming of a “fall” which began in bad weather and ended a few feet below on a broad ledge in bright sunshine. I would like to learn which climbers Mr. Barcott discussed the film with who “respected” it.

Jeremy Bernstein


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