The Summit of the Gods The Summit of the Gods

The Summit of the Gods, Netflix’s biggest indie animated feature pick-up of the year, is out now in select theaters — where its sweeping Himalayan vistas belong, according to at least one critic. The film comes to the streaming platform on November 30.

Part detective story, part action movie, part existential drama, The Summit of the Gods focuses on a legendary Japanese climber and a photo journalist who grows obsessed with his exploits. A narrative device links their adventures to those of George Mallory, the real-life British mountaineer who died on Everest in 1924.

The film is directed by Patrick Imbert (The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales) and based on the epic manga series of the same name by writer Baku Yumemakura and illustrator Jiro Taniguchi. Imbert wrote the screenplay with Jean-Charles Ostorero and Magali Pouzol.

Ostorero also produced alongside Didier Brunner, Damien Brunner, and Stephan Roelants. Thibaut Ruby executive-produced. The film, a co-production between France and Luxembourg, was produced by Julianne Films, Folivari (Pachamama), and Mélusine Productions (Wolfwalkers).

Critics like The Summit of the Gods, which has a 100% Tomatometer score (admittedly based on relatively few reviews) on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing. Here’s what they’re saying:

Tracy Brown suggests in the Los Angeles Times that animation is better suited to the story than live action would have been:

The film’s beautifully painted mountains are particularly striking, and the climbing sequences are among its standouts. Live action has nothing on the way these scenes convey both the majestic scale of the peaks and the technical skill necessary to attempt these summits (as well as the physical toll involved). The quiet, sublime moments the film captures as it pans over facets of the imposing Everest also offer a clue into why these mountaineers might be drawn to climbing without downplaying the danger involved.

The Summit of the Gods

Lovia Gyarkye also praises the art direction in The Hollywood Reporter, adding that the film should be seen in theaters:

2d never looked so good. While the characters themselves are rendered quite simply, their backgrounds sing, especially during climbs. Scenes of Habu holding on to the edge of an alp are cut with shots of a brilliant twinkling night sky or the mountains at dusk, suffused with purple and pink gradations. If you can watch on a big screen — and really, you should — these moments capture a slice of nature’s beauty.

Carlos Aguilar is taken by the film’s dramatic staging, writing in The Wrap of the mountain-climbing sequences:

Their awe-inspiring grandeur, even in drawn form, deliver us into the primal state of these men going against the elements for no other reason than their arrogance to defy some of the earth’s most inhospitable corners. Imbert carves palpable tension from exhaustion, the sight of a rope about to snap, and angles only plausible in animation. Danger permeates.

For Michael Nordine of Variety, the suspense doesn’t come at the expense of lyricism:

That makes for more intrigue and a wider scope than the average climbing movie, and The Summit of the Gods mostly lives up to its potential. There’s a gentleness to the film, a light touch that emphasizes the elegant, at times majestic movements necessary to conquer these peaks — as well as the varying motivations for even attempting such a feat. That’s not to say that the life-or-death stakes are downplayed, but rather that beauty and brutality intermingle to an unusual degree here.

Awarding the film three stars out of four,’s Glenn Kenny admits surprise at what the film achieves through animation:

A funny thing might happen to you while watching this film. Its story, of a photographer pursuing a legendary and legendarily reclusive mountain climber as he prepares to try and scale the south side of Everest, may prove sufficiently compelling that you’ll believe you’re watching a documentary. That would be quite an achievement for any dramatic film, but in this case it would be even more so. Because The Summit of the Gods … is an animated movie.

The Summit of the Gods