Three Peaks (Jan Zabeil, 2017)


Man vs. Wild vs. Family

Bear Grylls (Alexander Fehling) has survived the most dangerous environments, from vast deserts to impenetrable jungles, and shared many adventures with celebrities like Kate Winslet, Julia Roberts and Barack Obama. Now he faces one of the most difficult challenges: getting lost in the mountains with his future stepson. Because seeking shelter, eating a raw snake or drinking your own piss is not that traumatic compared to getting lost with an ill-behaved child that not only doesn’t listen but also frustrates all your plans. Because it’s not the same dealing with your family issues during a dinner or summer holiday than confronting them when you are about to freeze to death.

Three Peaks is more than just a survival film as it is also a great depiction of the wounded male ego. Here we have this good-looking man, who has a hot girlfriend, is good at sports and does all sorts of home repairs, that suddenly finds himself overpowered and humiliated by an eight-year-old kid. Poor Bear Grylls can’t really understand why he’s being constantly attacked by a child whom he loves when he’s just acting like an awesome stepdad. After crossing the North Atlantic Ocean in an inflatable boat and outrunning a train, Grylls realises that starting a new family is way more dangerous than wilderness.


Spoiler Area

During the Q&A at the London Film Festival, a member of the audience wanted to know if Aaron, aka Bear Grylls, survived at the end. Director Jan Zabeil then asked everyone to raised our hands if we believed he did. I thought it was quite obvious he survived, but I was surprised that half of the audience thought he didn’t. “A very pessimistic crowd”, Zabeil said. He later explained he would never take a character to such extremes and then let him die just like that. He’s not that cruel.

Recommended for

Those who enjoyed reading both Survivalism for Dummies and How to raise your kids without losing your mind.

Some Other Stray Observations

The movie’s main weak point is the way it portrays Tristan as a Damien-like child to the point of turning him into a cold-hearted killer. My six-year-old nephew gets mad at me if I don’t let him watch certain movies, but he never tried to pushed me off a cliff.

Good companion pieces

Kevin Macdonald’s documentary feature Touching the Void (2003) gives you an idea of how hard it is to get down a mountain with a broken leg and a companion that will definitely cut the rope.

MVP (cast)

Are you telling me that Alexander Fehling not only is handsome, athletic and a good actor, but also composes music? Ugh, why is life so unfair?

MVP (crew)

When a movie takes place in the Dolomites, its cinematographer will always have a head start. 

For Your Consideration

Best Director: Jan Zabeil - Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Alexander Fehling - Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Bérénice Bejo - Best Cinematography: Axel Schneppat