Mysterious video tapes that have been stored away for 17 years contain mountaineer Dragan Jaćimović’s account of his climb of Mount Everest—he was the first Serbian to ever make it to the top. The desolation of the mountain landscape underscores the emptiness Jaćimović feels when he finally arrives at the summit. The utter blankness of his expression as he leaves his ultimate goal behind him and starts the descent is unforgettable. The use of freeze frames perfectly matches the tone of the brutal surroundings, where time stands still and human capacities are tested to their very limits.
But don’t expect a run-of-the-mill travel documentary, because this melancholic document sees Mladen Kovačević completely reinvent the mountaineering film. There’s nothing heroic or polished here. First and foremost, the filmmaker is interested in Jaćimović’s mental state. Kovačević draws you in to the climb, the descent, and the mind of this man distancing himself ever further from reality—in his search for the big nothing.