Through a frosty mix of documentary footage and chill animation, the perilous peaks of Europe's Mont Blanc spring to life as ominous giants in a short film from athletic footwear company On, in partnership with Studio AKA and creative director Simon Brotherson.
Inspired by Alps travel posters from the Jazz Age, animator Manddy Wyckens takes a minimalist approach, as we follow ultra-athletes Katie Shide and Germain Grangier on a 42-hour trek they took over the summer. The trail runners cover 120 miles of rugged terrain—from Cervinia, Italy, to Charmonix, France. Cliffs with frowning (some might say craggy) faces loom on all sides, mocking the couple's exhausting and exhilarating efforts:
"The giants would watch over those who dared journey across their kingdom," the narration begins. "Testing their worthiness with blinding snow, jagged rock and deadly crevasse. But the girl and boy were well prepared," the narrator says. "For they had on their feet magic shoes that could run on clouds!" This storybook notion of two souls challenging ancient "gods" and ultimately winning their respect packs potent primal appeal.
"We took a live-action mountaineering challenge and reinterpreted it by adding magical elements to translate the danger, hardships and the immense forces of nature at play," says says Wyckens. "To do so, we created a very minimal design, a palette in shades of blue and an immense landscape to immerse the viewer within the mountain's atmosphere."
This helps viewers appreciate how minuscule and overwhelmed the runners sometimes feel on their journey, with inhospitable vistas spread out before them. Ultimately, however, their transcendent triumph speaks volumes about the human spirit, and leaves us feeling on top of the world as Shide and Grangier scale Mont Blanc's majestic summit.
The work explores themes that On introduced last year in this stirring campaign with triathlete Nicola Spirig, an Olympic gold medalist who trains like a fiend as she raises her young family.
Katie Schide & Germain Grangier
Filming & Photography
Company: Studio AKA
Hasani Franke, Work Editorial
Mountain Guide & Photography
With special thanks to: