A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Curiosity, perseverance, courage, and teamwork are all primary themes. Working with not against nature, but also respecting it. Getting the right balance between adventure and risk. Dealing with grief in positive ways.
Positive Role Models
Tom Ballard and other climbers are portrayed as being very single-minded. Tom, in particular, is shown to have been completely dedicated to climbing, challenging himself, and trying to achieve his goals. This is shown to have put pressure on his personal relationship with his girlfriend. Tom's fellow climber Daniele is said by some -- perhaps unfairly -- to have pushed Tom into participating in their fateful climb. Tom's sister, Kate, shows courage in visiting the place where her brother was last seen as a means of getting closure. Her father, Jim, shows great stoicism in how he deals with his son's death and talks about being there for Kate as she comes to terms with it.
The family at the heart of the documentary is White. But there is diversity among other climbers and support teams in terms of nationalities, race, and religion. Relationships cross countries, languages, religion, and even age. A group of Muslim men are briefly seen praying. Women climbers are shown to be just as impressively competent as their male counterparts.
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Violence & Scariness
The documentary centers around the death of a mother and son who both died, 24 years apart, while climbing in the Himalayan mountain range. Their deaths are discussed throughout and at one point in great detail. The bodies of two deceased climbers are pointed out on an aerial photograph. An upsetting phone call is heard where a father is told by his daughter of the probable death of his son. Footage of avalanches are shown as are climbers falling from rocks and cliff faces. A gun is fired as part of a memorial for two deceased climbers. The risks of extreme climbing are frequently discussed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A number of shots show climbers shirtless. A couple are seen at the beach in their swim shorts and bikini. The same couple are seen kissing in a couple of photographs. Someone talks about falling in love and sharing a first kiss with someone.
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A couple of instances of "f--k" and "f---ing." "Oh my God" is used as an exclamation.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Someone is seen smoking a large cigar while being interviewed. A group of people discuss wishing they had some alcohol while taking a break from climbing a mountain.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Last Mountain is an emotional documentary about the death of two mountain climbers, a mother and son, who died in the Himalayas 24 years apart. Kate Ballard visits the mountain where her brother, Tom, died in 2019, while reflecting on the death of her mother, Alison Hargreaves, who died in 1995 on a mountain just 100 miles from Tom. The film includes footage of both Tom and Kate as kids with their mother, right through to the present day. Rather than a morbid and somber approach, the documentary celebrates the curiosity, courage, and perseverance of humans. The achievements of Alison and particularly Tom are praised, both coming across as incredibly impressive, albeit single-minded, individuals. However, their deaths are not sidestepped with the circumstances of Tom's death discussed in great detail. The phone call where Kate informs her father that a body, presumed to be Tom, has been found is caught on camera. These moments are incredibly heartbreaking to watch. The body of Tom, along with that of his climbing partner, Daniele Nardi, are also seen in an aerial photograph. There is also footage of avalanches and of climbers falling, leading to some use of "f--k," although this is more out of frustration than injury. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Despite its subject matter -- the death of two climbers, a mother and son, 24 years apart -- this British documentary is a celebration of life and human accomplishments. That's not to say that The Last Mountain won't have you reaching for the tissues. The phone call between Kate Ballard and her father, Jim, where she explains that a body -- presumed to be Tom -- has been found, is particularly hard viewing. But just as impactful is the joyful footage of Kate and Tom as kids and of Tom's gradual development into one of the world's best climbers.
The final third of the film loses some of its momentum and perhaps could have been cut by 15 to 20 minutes. Too much time is spent relaying the messages both Tom and his fellow climber Daniele Nardi sent to social media shortly before their deaths. The purpose of this is surely to show how determined both men were. But at no point had their lack of ambition ever been questioned, and the fact that their fates are laid out from the beginning means there's no mystery as to what's going to happen. The suggestion that Nardi was in some way responsible for their deaths also feels a bit unfair, particularly as there's little opportunity given to those who might argue differently. These gripes aside, this is a powerful and at times heartbreaking documentary that highlights both the power of nature as well as that of humankind.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.