In 1968 a film about four climbers’ three-day journey up the face of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley won sweeping praise from film festivals across the world.
The film, named after the featured rock formation, won grand prize at the Banff Mountain Film Festival (Banff, BC), Festival International du Film D’Aventure Vecue (La Plagne, France), Mountainfilm (Telluride, CO.) and the international film festival Montagna Esplorazione (Trento, Italy), to name a few.
Along the way, El Capitan won the hearts of several critics, including mountaineer Royal Robbins (“Among climbing films, El Capitan is without peer in poetic beauty.”) and poet Gary Snyder (“The line between gulps of void and solid rock straight up and down – hair-raising, funny, pure, beautiful.").
Ten years ago, the movie was taken out of circulation, not because it had lost popularity (it was shown again at the 2007 edition of the Banff Mountain Film Festival), but because the film was so damaged.
Now Fred Padula, the man responsible for El Capitan, is trying to raise money on Kickstarter to restore the film. With six days left, he’s still about $8,500 short of the $25,000 goal.
Chip in just $15 and you’ll receive a DVD of the re-finished product. Not only are the shots of Yosemite’s big walls still just as impressive, but the film is also an important archive of early climbing culture. These climbers didn’t have Five Ten shoes or fancy trad gear.
So what exactly will this project entail? According to the video, Padula will go through the original 16mm film frame by frame to remove scratches and dirt. In the video above, he compares the original frames to the cleaned and updated versions. Based on this evidence, it’s safe to say that the finished product will be well worth the investment.