Wednesday, August 1

Film Review: Reveal the Path

On a recent date night my wife and I travelled into Denver to catch a screening of Mike Dion's Reveal the Path at the Denver Film Center on Colfax.

The whole family are fans of Ride the Divide, so when we saw that a new cyclo-centric film was coming out we marked the dates on our calendar.

I was apprehensive only because it was Ride the Divide that spawned my mountain biking obsession of the past two years. First it was Ride the Divide, then Race Across the Sky 2010, then I'm signed up to do the Leadville 100 with less than two weeks to go before mountain biking doom.

So when, during the opening scene, one of the guys says the film (Path) would create wanderlust in people I almost got up and walked out. I have a chronic and terminal case of perpetual wanderlust as it is. I didn't need any flare ups.

But, despite my discomfort, I sat through the whole film. The message of the film wasn't "go ride your bike" so much as it was a postcard encouraging you to explore, to open your mind to the strange and wonderful, and to embrace life.

They captured my own philosophies and dreams, realized and not, in the 90 minute film. At times I squirmed uncomfortably in my seat because I could see my own thought processes in the words of the cast. I could see myself throwing off all responsibilities and chasing some dream through the mists of strange places regardless of a (finally) mature sense of responsibility.

On the way home we talked about the location choices. At first they seemed a bit odd, but looking back the places where the cyclists travelled were perfect. First Scotland, then France and Switzerland, then Morocco, Nepal and finally fat bike beach touring in Alaska.

Those familiar with Ride the Divide will recognize Mike Dion, Hunter Weeks and Matthew Lee. Also part of the cast for The Path is ultra endurance cyclist Kurt Refsnider.

While Reveal the Path could be seen as another installment in the Dion/Weeks cycling film saga, and while in some sense it seems to pick up where Ride the Divide leaves off, the film clearly stands on its own as an important piece on adventure cycling, bikepacking and the evolving world of travel.

The camera work is much improved over that of Divide. You see a lot more action cycling in Path. The cinematography is stunning primarily due to the locales the guys visit, but they definitely portray the landscapes they ride in a memorable manner.

I liked that the filmmakers tried to showcase the cultures they encountered along the way and tried to convey what it was like to live in the locations they visited. That is a reality of any kind of travel beyond our familiar surroundings. It's important to try and see what is novel myself through the eyes of those who see it as mundane. They did a good job of including indigenous peoples in a meaningful way.

It was only slightly disappointing that a film entitled The Path would be a series of vignettes not connected in a linear manner in any obvious way. Divide showcased a race, and therefore had a cohesive progression from beginning to end, whereas Path seems a bit disconnected.

I'm not saying the message was incoherent, just that I feel it could have been represented in a different way. Maybe it just wasn't what I was expecting. Maybe I should just shut up and make my own film, huh?

Regardless, Reveal the Path is a great film, with stunning cinematography and a a great message. The lingering questions is: are these guys married to the best wives in the universe? Matthew Lee was on the Tour Divide while his wife was in her final weeks of pregnancy with their first child, and Mike Dion is a father of two. Hopefully the success of the films allow them some latitude in their familial duties and they didn't have to sleep on their couches when they returned home from their amazing adventure. I'm sure that didn't happen...

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