There's just something about the old live action Disney movies that is often missing from today's current movies. The themes of hard work, duty and sacrifice are often taught, and this movie is no exception- though I have to admit, I'd never heard of this particular movie until about a week ago! This tale of following your dreams and sacrificing for others is a must-watch for families. And if you enjoy mountain climbing, you will find it especially enjoyable! (Though a little nerve wracking- their climbing gear does NOT look safe!)
I accidentally stumbled across this gem as I was searching for a mountain climbing themed gift. We were preparing to host my son's Coming of Age Celebration, and I wanted to put a gift bag together of goodies and other things to thank the adults that would be helping us. This particular son is passionate about rock climbing, and there are so many symbolic parallels we could use with that, so we chose this as our theme.
I thought a movie as part of the gift would be a great idea, but here's the thing about rock climbing movies: they are all incredibly depressing! Someone always dies, and it's often a brutal and tragic story. Not really the feel-good gift I was looking for. Then I found Third Man on the Mountain. It was perfect, as most of our adults who would be attending also have young children in their homes.
The story is based off the award winning book, Banner in the Sky. (Which is a really great read, probably for ages 10-14.) It is about Rudi Matt (played by James MacArthur- the guy who played Fritz in Swiss Family Robinson), a boy who is passionate about mountain climbing, but who is not allowed to climb because his father was killed in a climbing accident.
Well...Rudi sneaks off one day to go climb (uh oh!) and in the process saves the life of a famous climber (yay!). One thing leads to another, and Rudi has the opportunity to be in the first party ever to climb The Citadel- the same mountain his father died on. As the climb progresses, an accident happens and Rudi has to make a choice: does he leave an injured climber (a man who is a jerk, but who will not survive without his help) and keep climbing to be the first to reach the top, or does he sacrifice his dream and help the other man?
This being a Disney movie, I'll bet you can guess what choice he makes. But the way it is presented is fabulous, and after the climb is over, Rudi is recognized for being honorable and his choice is celebrated. His mother also learns to love this part of her boy, to not be scared, and to celebrate his gifts.
I loved it. I can identify with the mother's fears, and I was reminded to celebrate my children's gifts even if they scare me or it's not my "thing". I don't want to put them in a position where they have to sneak off to do something they are passionate about. I also really appreciate the way that the movie showed duty and honor as something that a real man does, and not just search for glory and fame.
I hope you watch it soon!
Community Question: Did anyone else have a crush on Fritz from Swiss Family Robinson like I did? :)
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