Last Base (2014) – By Philip Smolen

Joachim (Petter Width Kristiansen) is a BASE jumper (Building, Antenna, Span and Earth). He has been jumping for years with his best friend Yvind (Kenneth Åkerland Berg). But at their last jump off of a Norwegian mountain, Joachim’s good friend Roger was killed. Now married, Joachim wants to perform one more jump before his wife gives birth to their first child. So off the two men go and as they begin to climb the mountain, the weather starts turning bad. The higher the duo goes, the worse everything gets. When they finally reach their jump off point Yvind decides that it’s far too risky to jump and tries to persuade Joachim to give up the jump. But Joachim refuses, so Yvind turns back and heads down the mountain, while Joachim stands at the precipice, pulls out a bag of Roger’s ashes and makes his final decision.

 “Last Base” is writer/director Aslak Danbolt’s short film master’s thesis for the London Film School and it is eminently watchable. Danbolt doesn’t seek to explain why normal, sane men would climb a mountain and drop off into an abyss. His camera is there merely to observe so we can form our own opinion. He smartly allows the situation to develop its own natural tension and suspense as Joachim and Yvind slowly climb the mountain. At first the scenery is naturally lush and peaceful, but as the terrain changes to barren rock, the feeling of tranquility quickly changes to fear and apprehension. The young director also keeps the dialogue to a minimum and lets the few clipped bits of conversation between the two jumpers belie their unspoken feelings of dread and turmoil.

The photography and the scenes of the panoramic mountain vistas are very evocative and breathtaking. While “Last Base” doesn’t offer any deep philosophical insights into the minds of a couple of modern daredevils, it still is an exciting and powerful short film that galvanizes your emotions and will make you gasp.

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