DVD REVIEW - Life On Hold

     I’m glad I didn't write a review of this film when I first got it as an internet download because it’s grown on me over the last months.  My first impressions were that although the camera-work looked excellent the content was mixed up and the character of the main protagonists didn't shine through.  In essence I thought it was too similar to other bouldering films, just focusing on difficult moves.  Whilst the numbers may be the most important aspect for some, I value more the quality of line, atmosphere, history and emotional perspective that makes for 'a good story' rather than a soulless collection of clips of long-armed freaks doing pull-ups on tiny crimps.  After a number of watches however, I am a convert.
     The opening sequence of the film is a highlight and sets the scene for what’s to come.  Although the route being climbed doesn't get named we all know what it is.  I’ve stood underneath Careless Torque, its big, blank and intimidating.  The footage of Ned Feehally climbing this has a sombre, almost lonely feel, portraying very well the feeling us mortals even get sometimes when we’re moving well and in control.  It’s like nothing else exists in the world.  This isn’t so much man vs rock as a gritstone spooning session.
     The bulk of the film alternates between fun and serious.  Sunny bouldering with a feel-good soundtrack interspersed with more dramatic sweaty palmed highballs.  The mix just about works and the variety of venues help to make no two segments seem too similar.  It was certainly nice to see some familiar Yorkshire Grit included alongside more famous venues Obviously the ‘headline’ ascents of Samson (we’ve all seen Hard Grit) and The Promise are good to watch, showing the boundaries of highballing being pushed with the tension, anticipation and occasional fear that goes with such feats.  The footage of Michele Caminati at Black Rocks, the perseverance after numerous failures and the moment where everything comes together perfectly has similarities with the opening scene, the emotional essence of why we climb, no further explanation needed and none is really given.  I like the lack of pandering to a non-climbing audience. 
     The film peaks a little early, making the ending a bit of an anti-climax, but taken as a whole package it packs in a bit of everything.  I don’t know if I’d call it inspirational, I don’t aspire to repeat much of what’s shown, but it does makes me want to get out there and climb.  If this were the litmus test then it has surely done its job well!

NEClimber Rating  7/10

Copies of the DVD are available from Outcrop Films


  1. Good review but could maybe do with some screenshots. Malc

  2. Thanks for the criticism Malc.
    I'll be doing some more reviews after the Kendal Film Festival so I will certainly bear that in mind.