Based on the book Magnificent Failure: Free Fall From the Edge of Space by Craig Ryan, this feature documentary enlightens its audience about a man who unfailingly believed he could make the impossible possible. Interviews with family, friends and former colleagues of Nick Piantanida tell his extraordinary story and explain that he never let the fear of failure stop him. For those unfamiliar with Piantanida, the documentary informs the viewer of how this untrained parachutist broke the world record for reaching the highest altitude in a manned balloon in 1966, a record that was outdone only recently in 2012 by Felix Baumgartner.
Baumgartner, unlike Piantanida, is a trained and professional skydiver who has broken several skydiving world records. Angry Sky is opened with Baumgartner’s brief biography and description of the feeling of literally being on top of the world before the jump, along with breathtaking footage of the event. Following this, he straightforwardly continues to say how he could not imagine doing that jump 50 years ago as Piantanida had tried to do, which introduces the protagonist seamlessly to the audience.
As a mixture of original footage and acted reproductions of Piantanida’s life are presented, the voiceover taken from interviews with a number of people informs and supports the visual footage. The audience learns of the challenges Piantanida set himself prior to the Strato Jump, such as becoming one of the first people to climb Angel Falls and then returning from Venezuala to become an exotic pet owner. Angry Sky gradually builds a picture of Piantanida’s life and personality in order for the viewer to empathise with his ambition and motivation clearly, therefore enabling them to comprehend his progression to parachuting.
Director Jeff Tremaine educates the audience diligently as he unveils a look at the history of parachutes and hot air balloons to provide proper context of how Piantanida’s goal was complex and difficult to achieve. Letters he sent to the Airforce and Nasa asking for advice and help are also presented, which is very interesting to see. As the films unravels, the viewer comes to realise the fatal obsession with success that Piantanida was subject to. Significantly influenced by the affecting and almost subliminal soundtrack, the same desire to see him succeed, as was evidently felt by those around him at the time, including his wife, colleagues, and many supporters, is strongly evoked.
Angry Sky does not yet have a UK release date.
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