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Reviews > Books > General > Tell It on the Mountain DVD > Test Report by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes

Tell It On The Mountain - DVD

Tales from the Pacific Crest Trail – Documentary

Initial Report - May 20 2013
Long Term Report - June 19 2013

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
E-Mail: amatbrewer@yahoo.com
Age: 47
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 197 lb (89.40 kg)

Biography:

I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions.  I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30 lbs (14 kg).

Product Information

Producer:

Shaun Carrigan

Year of Manufacture:

2013

Manufacturer’s Website:

www.tellitonthemountain.com

MSRP:

US$15.00 Digital Download
US$15.00  DVD

Measured Weight:

80g; 2.8oz

Measured Dimensions:

264 cm x 188 cm x 7.6 cm (10.4 in x 7.4 in x 0.3 in)

Product image
Image courtesy of www.tellitonthemountain.com

Product Description:

This is a documentary covering about a dozen through-hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail (hereafter referred to as the PCT). It provides an “insider’s view of what it takes to spend half a year living in the wild.” The documentary is available in two versions: a digital download (in MP4 format) that includes 48 minutes of extras, and a DVD (made with recycled materials) that includes 55 minutes of extras. I received the DVD which states that the running time is 122 minutes.


Initial Report

May 203 2013
The disk came in a standard DVD holder made of paper with an internal plastic holder for the disk. The cover includes some nice graphics including a basic map of the PCT with key locations identified as well as a list of statistics such as the overall length of the trail (2663mi / 4286 km) as well as the distance for each state it crosses and counts of notable features such as mountain passes, canyons, lakes, etc. The back of the case, along with some graphics, an introduction to the documentary, the web site address, and the length/format of the video includes a bit of trivia I found interesting: “Fewer people have thru-hiked the PCT than have climbed Mt Everest.”

The manufacturer’s web site includes some background information on the PCT, some of the people in the movie, and the film makers, in addition to a short video trailer for the movie a link to purchase the documentary. It also contains many nice photos.

I live rather close to the PCT, in Central Washington, and some of my go-to hikes include sections of the PCT in Washington and Oregon. On some of my hikes I have been fortunate enough to encounter some of the PCT thru-hikers and found them to be a personable bunch with some great stories to tell and more than willing to chat a bit with fellow hikers, even if they are lowly weekend warriors and/or section hikers like myself who will probably never hike more than a tiny fraction of the PCT in any one outing. So I am really excited to view this video (writing this instead of immediately watching it is taking every bit of self control I possess).
Inside Cover

Long Term Report

June 19 2013
Notes:
  • In this report I will refer to Tell It On the Mountain interchangeably as a film and documentary.
  • All of the photos in this report are screen captures from the film.

I am a big fan of documentaries and educational films. From science, to biographies, to history, I watch them all; I have even been known to watch documentaries about making documentaries. So having the opportunity to review a film on the PCT? Wow, what a chance…that is if it is good. But what if it is bad? After all it is over 2 hrs. plus another 55 minutes of extras (extras and bios)! This could be a very pleasant or rather painful 3 hours of my life. With that in mind I put the disk in my DVD player, got comfortable on the couch, and started watching the film (sans popcorn).

Screen capture from DVDThe opening graphics were nice. They list the options and the selection is indicated by a pair of boot prints; nice touch. Being familiar with documentaries and related films, I was prepared for low quality title graphics and/or overuse of a bunch of “really cool effects” that the filmmakers just could not help but use. What I was not prepared for was very attractive, simple, professional, and extremely appropriate title scenes and graphics. And by giving “Mother Nature” billing for providing the scenery, showed the film was not going to be taking its self too seriously. A really good start!

As mentioned, the film starts out with some very nice title graphics and opening scenes, then goes on to provide some information about the PCT, the people involved, and especially the few folks who for the lack of another term star in this film. The rest of the film is a series of clips, of various length, showing the trail experience from the point of view of the participants as well as some clips from interviews and what is probably video taken by the filmmakers. The film roughly progresses in the same sequence as the hikers traveling the PCT from its southern California starting point to its terminus at the US/Canadian border. The film concludes with a chapter titled epilogues that wraps up the stories of the various people involved very nicely. The ending graphics and credits are as well done as in the opening with another nod to the light hearted way this was made by crediting “Mother Nature as herself.” A few days after watching the film I loaded the disk into my laptop and started watching the extras.

Screen CaptureWhat can I say about the sound track? I loved the music and it was well suited to complement the film. The title song has been stuck in my head since I first watched this, and I mean that in a good way. It is quite pleasant to be at work and realize I am humming the title song and thinking either about some part of the film, or reminded of my own trail adventures.

One of my favorite parts of the film was the wedding. It reminded me of my first Mt. Adams climb where we stopped at a scenic section of the trail and a couple that was with us was married. We continued on and the couple returned to the trailhead to go on their honeymoon. It was kind of surreal.

Any attempt I could make to describe the characters in this film, their adventures, or the PCT itself would simply not do the film justice and so I will refrain from trying. I will however go as far as saying that my personal experiences with PCT through-hikers and what interesting characters they are was supported by this film, but my experiences pale to the people the filmmakers focused on. I will also say that the scenery captured for this film is fantastic to the point that I have found myself pausing it in various parts as I re-watch it just to extend the experience and envision myself there. I have also been unable to refrain from pausing various scenes trying to see if it is a location that I recognize. While some of the shots seem very familiar, the only one that I am entirely sure of is the shot of someone passing through the tunnel (drilled in the rock to pass behind a waterfall) on a section that is locally called Eagle Creek.

Screen Capture 3One thing of note about this film beyond what is in it, and what is in it is very good, is what was left out. Information about the PCT itself, covering its conception, construction, features, maintenance and future I’m sure could fill a documentary all by itself. This could easily become a major portion of a film like Tell It On The Mountain. The filmmakers did a wonderful job in my opinion of including enough information about the trail to provide the needed backdrop and framework for the people that the film focuses on. Something else left out, as far as I can tell, is any reference to, or appearance of the filmmakers. Given my previous statement about how the focus was on the people I can understand the intent of this. However I find that having some knowledge about who the filmmakers are helps put a film like this into better prospective. So I would love if the film included something on the filmmakers themselves. Maybe short interviews, or since it is clear they were having fun with this and have a sense of humor, I suspect there may be some very entertaining outtakes that might do the trick.

If it is not obvious from the above I really enjoyed this film. So far I have watched it at least twice in its entirety, including all the extras, and have re-watched various sections a few more times. Some of this was for my report, but most of it was simply for my own enjoyment. I expect I will end up watching this film many more times in the future.

Likes:
  • The DVD is made from recycled materials
  • The cover graphics are simple and attractive
  • Excellent graphics and editing
  • The extras and bios were quite enjoyable and added to the film
Dislikes:
  • Nothing at all

This concludes my report. I would like to thank the folks at Tell it on the Moutain and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.

 



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