Adam Ondra Movie

Posted on 18. Jan, 2012 by in News

I wrote this as a response to a thread on Facebook (but felt compelled to repost it here), and while this isn’t technically a review of the movie “The Wizard’s Apprentice” it is somewhat of a response to Andrew Bisharat’s review here.

The Wizard’s Apprentice is unquestionably the most inspiring sport climbing movie I have ever seen. While the movie certainly has its flaws (and I agree with a number of AB’s critiques), I think it should be said that Adam’s commitment to climb those brutally difficult routes in the Frankjura (all of them), then put up that incredible route in Sardina, repeat Golpe de Estado, and repeat those extremely difficult boulders in Ticino is admirable, and I find the movie motivating for three reasons.

First of all, he is so far ahead of every American sport climber that he is single handedly embarrassing all of us, and his talent is on full display. Unfortunately the response from several Americans is to want to mock him (based on the review of the movie and subsequent commentary I’ve read here on Facebook). I agree the swearing and tantrums are annoying, yet he is a character (aren’t we all?), and a thoughtful one at that, and that is something our sport could use more of.

Secondly, I greatly appreciate his openness to talk about grades as they are a very important part of our sport- although not everything. (and it’s clear that Adam doesn’t think so either – the beauty of the routes and problems he is choosing to climb speaks for themselves). Many American sport climbers seem to waffle about grades, yet Adam, only 18, doesn’t hesitate to give an honest, logical and well thought-out opinion- an opinion which is based on experience. I admire his desire to lead.

Finally, I understand what kind of passion can bring someone to drive thousands of miles to climb in the snow, alone, because they are so driven. I have done so myself, hundreds of times, and I appreciate the candidness and sincerity of his passion for climbing. I enjoyed watching him fail, because his motivation to try and try and try again and to relentlessly work harder to see a goal achieved is something I appreciate and can relate to.

Thanks for the review AB, I think the movie could have used some work and like I said I agree with a number of his points, but I also really enjoyed it! Ondra is the best climber in the world, I am confident he will continue to go out of his way to demonstrate that, and I look forward to more movies that document his incredible climbing.

26 Responses to “Adam Ondra Movie”

  1. Brianh

    18. Jan, 2012

    Poor American climbers… we lost Sharma, and we’re a bunch of wishy-washy resentful fools to boot. That’s probably why he left us.

  2. webclimber

    18. Jan, 2012

    It is all about expectations I guess.
    The filmmaker is new to the climbing, probably to climbing media too and he don´t know the audience very good. For good and bad.

    Obviously he don´t really have the feelin for what he needs to say in narratives and when the pictures speaks for themselfs, he is probably unaware of that it´s taboo speaking so much of grades and a lot more that could be considered as flaws.
    He couldn´t make a smart film, but the “simple” format is somehow refreshing too.

    Adam get really frustrated when he falls, and really happy when he reaches the anchor. Climbing is really simple and that is probably why it is so addictable.

    Parents sacrificing there own weekends to go training with the kid, just like many other parents of succesful athlete´s. Sure it is a lifestyle, but not the easy lifestyle that is often pictured in lifestyle sports. You get to see how much work, effort and frustration it takes to be at the top. Maybe it is not the most selling message, but training is not fun nor rewarding every single hour. But it is probably true for all topclimbers, any athlete.

    About the yelling and the review in Rock and ice, find it hard to believe the author wasn´t aware of Ondra´s screams before. Take the good with the bad. Just maybe Adams frustration when failing took him where he is today.

  3. Lee

    18. Jan, 2012

    Thank you, Jamie, for a REAL review which definitely aligns with my own thoughts of the movie. It’s not perfect, but it does include some great, great footage and a solid story and edit.

    While he’s certainly entitled to his opinion, AB’s caustic review was, frankly, ridiculous. To sum up with “Chill out, it’s just climbing” coming from that source (someone who makes their living from climbing minutiae) is hypocritical at best.

    The thing which annoyed me most in the movie was not the tantrums, but the 1.5x speed of a lot of the climbing footage (especially see Marina Superstar footage). This will certainly be a minor point for some, but for me, it really detracted from being able to appreciate Adam’s effort and movement. Tighter editing could have solved this.

  4. webclimber

    18. Jan, 2012

    Forgot to say I was fascinated by the movie and recomend it, I guess that is more interesting than wether the film could be done in another way.

  5. g

    18. Jan, 2012

    the anti-tantrum R&I review remind me something that has been going on at a more local scale in europe, concerning another young gun (enzo oddo).
    Strikingly similar comments from climbers having seen the guy in action.

    i think it’s in the nature of a teenager to be a bit over the top in some situations, and i’m surprised that adults commenting on this annoying attitudes aren’t able to put them in perspective and being a tad more forgiving, or at least “paternalistic”, as they probably would if we were talking of teenagers showing ordinary abilities.

    it would be interesting to know why the fact that they climb so hard generates the expectation that they behave as mature athletes…

  6. joeyjoejoe

    18. Jan, 2012

    The AB review is disgusting. I can’t believe Rock & Ice would publish such trash.

    A 2-hour movie detailing the efforts of the strongest climber in the world, and all he can do is complain about the way Ondra screams? Whenever people complain about others screaming in climbing, it only reflects on their own fragile personas. If it’s too much for you to listen to somebody else fighting with everything they have to finish a route, then go home, eat some pudding, maybe have a nap. The crag is not the place for you.

  7. Nicholas Mathis

    19. Jan, 2012

    Well put post Jamie.

  8. ChrisR

    19. Jan, 2012

    While I haven’t seen the movie or read the R&I review, I would like to just throw out an opinion of crag tantrums. I certainly am not innocent when it comes to screaming, flailing and cursing my way up or down a climb. But I think as a community we owe it to ourselves to try and provide some sort of role model for crag behavior. When I am spending a day climbing my enjoyment has nothing to do with how hard the whipper snapper down the way is climbing, but if they are constantly throwing wobblers each time they fall then that will negatively impact my own fun. When you consider that climbers may not be the only people enjoying the outdoors it becomes even more compelling to show at least some restraint so that we don’t damage our collective image and/or jeopardize access.

    In my experience, if someone is having tantrums at 18, they will most likely be having tantrums at 25 and maybe at 35. Maybe this is part of Ondra’s sending mojo and he would only redpoint 5.11 without them, and maybe since he is so obviously special perhaps he is above any such reproach, but I suspect he could channel his energy into a less obnoxious avenue and still crush with impunity. (as an aside, I don’t think this should be the sole aspect to judge a movie by either)

    My point is that it is reasonable to express frustration and jubilation while climbing, but excessively annoying behavior is selfish and can negatively impact the community as a whole. No matter how strong you may be pulling, selfish behavior is just as obnoxious and we should take it on ourselves to gently remind the younger generation (cause I’m sure no old dogs throw fits…) how to have fun, pull hard and be a good steward and diplomat for the sport.


  9. slabdyno

    20. Jan, 2012

    who the hell is andrew bitchrat? wtf, it IS normal to drop f-bombs when you fall. its emotion, normal for doing something you are passionate about.

  10. hayden

    20. Jan, 2012

    that v9 slab stalagmite cave bulb FA was sick!

  11. B3

    20. Jan, 2012

    yes Hayden! the underground realms!

  12. Justin

    20. Jan, 2012

    Good on you Jamie for posting this. I guess people like Andrew just needed something to bitch about, and that was all Adam gave him. The fact that he can’t or won’t put that into perspective reflects negatively on him as a person and the fact that R&I published that reflects poorly on them as a publication. It would be nice to see that particular attitude go away. I wonder if that was Andrews buddy, if he would still write such a review.

  13. B3

    20. Jan, 2012

    I don’t think he is critical of Sharma’s yelling, but perhaps that is less obnoxious? I don’t know.

  14. hayden

    20. Jan, 2012

    Clap! Snap! the black crack!
    Grip, grab! Pinch, nab!
    And down to Goblin-town
    You go, my lad!

    Clash, crash! Crush, smash!
    Hammer and tongs! Knocker and gongs!
    Pound, pound, far underground!
    Ho, ho! my lad!

    Swish, smack! Whip crack!
    Batter and beat! Yammer and bleat!
    Work, work! Nor dare to shirk,
    While Goblins quaff, and Goblins laugh,
    Round and round far underground
    Below, my lad!

  15. B3

    20. Jan, 2012

    You’ve successfully integrated bouldering and The Hobbit. Well played Hayden.

  16. […] the movie could have been improved in some aspects, but overall I would tend to side with Jamie Emerson’s response to Bisharat which acknowledges some of the faults but focuses on the overall merits of the […]

  17. Ox

    20. Jan, 2012

    I waited impatiently for this movie and thank god adam is so determined and talented he saved the film, but honestly some of the worst filmmaking i have seen in a while. Constant rambling from an out of touch narrator who barely seems in line with what adam seems to be all about and doesn’t seem to manage to show any of Adam’s amazing ideals and thoughts besides his determination. Multiple times he even states his confusion of adams intent, and honestly what is with the constant 3 second frame change to teenage girls staring into the distance or possibly at adam kinda creepy to me. Its also disappointing that he made so much time devoted to showing his actions as tantrums and not the result of incredible drive and focus. I see it hard to believe he did not realize the way it would be framed later and how little it matters in the world of a young man with so much talent and focus. As if in these last few years he didn’t have enough to film he really needed his commentary and randomness. Big thing here is not too take away from adam because of poor filmmaking any of us could get put on camera and framed to look however the filmmaker wants, it happens all the time on reality shows and is unfortunate to those being framed. His talent and drive are easy to confuse with fits until you hear him speak and see how contained he is for someone so young we all need a release just most of us do not want it too be filmed.

  18. Matt

    20. Jan, 2012

    I have yet to see the movie but I wanted to comment on the Tantrums. To a level, it is acceptable. While I don’t think it’s okay to drop an f bomb (I don’t swear in my life (usually)) it happens. I’ve done it falling off a v2 move at the end of a v9 project and yelled.

    But, I think one needs to have some control. I yelled in the above example because, I thought, I was the only person in the forest. (There was one other.) Control doesn’t take much effort, one just needs to make it a habit.

    When he fell at the top of Papichulo (I think that’s what it was) that is unnacceptable from anyone. The fact that it was on camera and at a very popular crag makes it worse. It’s kind of embarassing really.

    In the end, it’s nothing to base the movie off of. It is nothing to complain to the extent that the R&I article did. And, it can be forgiven. Like I said, I would prefer he didn’t, but I’m not going to judge because of it.

  19. TaylorM

    20. Jan, 2012

    There are certain standards a professional should hold themselves too, especially if they call themselves a professional. If Ondra was part of a team sport and threw tantrums the way he does at the crag he would be called unprofessional. He is defiantly the top sport climber and maybe the top climber, and acting like a 3 year old is not what THE top climber should be doing. I understand his passion and frustration, but being such a prolific icon in climbing means there is a standard that we the climbing community and Ondra himself have to hold ourselves to. We should care what kind of person is climbing, not just how hard they are climbing. Doing hard sport routes is not a excuse to act like a child.

  20. webclimber

    20. Jan, 2012


    It is a little funny that one of the articles on the webpage your linking to uses Sharmas screams to set the scene for the story.

    “Again Chris produced his distinctive animal yell. We kept screaming for him to Go! Go! Go! ”

    I am not american, but maybe the review is right about that Ondra is still “a mystery” for americans. But in the best of worlds that would trigger a journalist to book an interview.

    I think Ondras tantrums could be a story for rockandice – but in that case you could demand of a climbing mag to at least talk to him. Add some more value than opinions based on others opninions.

  21. ktmt

    21. Jan, 2012

    Great post, Jamie! I’ve really enjoyed the Ondra documentary and was quite put off by AB’s rant.

    I find myself on the fence about Ondra’s fits, but tend to lean toward giving him the benefit of the doubt. The few times that anything similar has come out of me has happened when I’ve fallen while being 100% in the moment, with my body and mind operating purely on automatic. The shock of coming off forced words and screams out of me before my conscious mind ever caught up. I like to think that Ondra’s behavior is evidence of the absolute effort and concentration he gives to his attempts, that he’s doing this all the time at a level most of us rarely reach. The calmness he displays only moments after his wobblers would seem to support this, although I suppose that could be an illusion caused by the edit. Hard to say, but if Alex Huber AND Ondra’s mom are okay with it, then who are we to criticize!?

  22. […] the movie could have been improved in some aspects, but overall I would tend to side with Jamie Emerson’s response to Bisharat which acknowledges some of the faults but focuses on the overall merits of the […]

  23. […] the other hand, Jamie Emerson at B3Bouldering responds to Bisharat by… not addressing Bisharat’s central thesis in any way whatsoever, saying […]

  24. Sean Ferrell

    23. Jan, 2012

    Whatever. Bisharat is just performing. Stirring things up. His job is to entertain. And just because I do not agree does not mean that I am not entertained. In the same way that your unashamedly disgusting friend says some pretty funny stuff sometimes, I think Bisharat is keeping things lively.
    Most climbers have involuntarily shuddered or opened their eyes a little wider when Ondra does his tantrum thing.
    It’s not super cool, but then I can be kind of an asshole myself, so I think I better not judge him for it.

  25. Ben

    24. Jan, 2012

    Some people seem to be conflating screaming WHILE climbing with going on a jag AFTER falling. Those are two quite different things, no? Letting out a primal bellow while trying to grab and hold onto a tiny pinch is different from falling off said pinch and then throwing an obscenity-encrusted tantrum.

  26. […] Emerson posted a comment on my Facebook page, which he then decided to use for a post on his excellent hub, thereby creating what seems to have become the de facto rebuttal to my article, and therefore […]

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