“ALIVE” (“VIVANT”)— The First Solo Jump

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“Vivant!” (“Alive!”)

The First Solo Jump

Amos Lassen

I love that there are always new ideas for movies and while I did not think I would be interested in a film about guys taking their first solo parachute jump, I was wrong. I love this little film about the week of training undergone by five HIV+ men leading up to their first solo parachute jump and the way it documents the development of unlikely friendships that came into being in such a disparate group.

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The focus is spread quite evenly between the interpersonal relationships of the five men and on the quite intense training for the parachute jump. As we can imagine, the training is both physically and mentally demanding, and we see these men visibly struggle to deal with and use all the information needed to make a successful jump.

As the day for the jump gets closer, the group witnesses a near-catastrophic problem in the air and we in the audience share in the very real feeling that there is a great more danger than they had considered and watching this is fascinating. As time moves closer to the actual jump, the film changes its focus to the friendships between the guys. As the relationships become stronger, the conversations become more intimate and personal—something we would not expect from a group of people who had been strangers.

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The five offer very different viewpoints on the relationships they have with significant others and sexual partners. We get the context as we hear stories of their first loves, first kisses and some less-enjoyable situations they have found themselves in. Some of the stories are quite difficult to hear and so I can imagine how difficult they were to tell but hearing gives a much deeper understanding of the situation these men face everyday.

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We see wide aerial shots interspersed with close-ups, drawing contrasts between the adrenaline rush of the jump and the quieter moments of introspection and intimacy. The overall story is beautifully related, as are the men’s stories of loneliness and, conversely, fear of intimacy and they provide unique and very personal insights.

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