Diving Into The Unknown


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Diving Into The Unknown
"Despite the confusion there is a tremor of excitement that never goes away."

Cave diving is yet another extreme sport that scares the living daylights out of most of us. These guys do it under the ice in mid winter. They come from Finland which means they have to be hard and used to minus-God-knows-what. Also, they have to be brave.

When they attempted this particular dive under a mountain in Norway they took a camera to record it, not expecting to make a documentary that would end up in a film festival in Edinburgh. What happened on that dive changed everything. Two of their team became trapped at the deepest point and, despite frantic efforts by the others, did not survive.

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Divers are close and dependent upon each other which makes an accident such as this emotionally devastating. The Norwegians closed the cave, or rather made it illegal for anyone to go down there again. The dead Finns would remain, buried in icy water 120 meters down.

Their colleagues decided to go back to retrieve the bodies. And so the film proper begins. They could be arrested. They could die in the cave. The tension is real. The camera follows as they go.

During the talking heads section which is intercut with the second dive you learn a little about their lives, why they do what they do, the impact on their families, the importance of remaining calm in a crisis because fast breathing increases carbon dioxide and a man in panic puts everyone at risk.

Shooting in cramped conditions underwater with limited light is a challenge for any filmmaker. It is difficult to understand exactly what is going on much of the time and once they are kitted out in their black suits with oxygen canisters strapped to their bodies even harder to know who is who and who is where.

Despite the confusion there is a tremor of excitement that never goes away. It is easy to criticise the lack of continuity, the loose questions that are left unanswered, the complications of the filming and the weakness of a visual narrative.

What cannot be denied is the courage and tenacity of these men. They deserve to be honoured. In Edinburgh. With a film.

Reviewed on: 19 Jun 2016
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Diving Into The Unknown packshot
The survivors of a cave accident risk their lives to bring the bodies of their friends to the surface.

Director: Juan Reina

Writer: Juan Reina

Starring: Patrik Grönqvist, Kai Känkänen, Sami Paakkarinen, Vesa Rantanen

Year: 2016

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: Finland, Norway


EIFF 2016
DOC NYC 2016

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