The Prophet should get six stars but, unfortunately, it shares disc space with several deeply uninspiring shorts. Various climbers are interested in various routes. They hike to the base. Indy rock music plays. The route is sent. It’s a boring mold with none of the emotion that we expect from the climbing canon or this film’s title.
The Prophet, on the other hand, is the most riveting 45 minutes of footage I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of footage. Alastair Lee’s filmmaking seems almost molded around Leo Houlding’s thoughts; the happiness and crushing disappointment and absolute blinding fear that Leo works through are mirrored perfectly. My palms were practically streaming with sweat, I was biting my lip, and I nearly had a heart attack watching Houlding throw himself into “The Devil’s Dyno” 1500 feet off the deck.
But just as with The Asgard Project, Lee and Houlding’s last creation, there’s more to Prophet than just adrenaline. Houlding’s deadpan British wit and stoic endurance get just as much screen time as his muscles, as does the sheer strength of will required to work one project for nine years. I’ve never worked that hard at anything, but I know what Leo’s talking about when he explains it. “If it was easy,” he muses, looking into the distance, “it wouldn’t be so hard.”
Prophet makes up for the other films’ problems; I’d watch the DVD anyway. But save Prophet for last. It’s worth the wait.