In 2000, explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes lost all of the fingers on his left hand when his sled fell through the ice during a solo attempt to walk to the North Pole. His response? “There is no use crying over spilt milk”.
It is this courage and spirit that director Matthew Dyas encapsulates in Explorer, his feature-length documentary looking at the life of the award-winning adventurer. His list of achievements is endless, from travelling the Earth from pole to pole to discovering the Lost City of Ubar (Atlantis of the Sands), and it really does seem the Sir Ranulph has done it all, albeit losing a few fingers along the way. How different life could have been if he had been chosen to be James Bond. Luckily for Fiennes, the producers went with another man named Roger Moore.
Yet all the while, he has remained humble, merely grateful for the opportunity to live the life he has and to simply have survived. The question Explorer quests to answer is: why does he do it? Following the traditional trail of journeying through his life, beginning with his childhood, Dyas shows us how Fiennes was always the intrepid adventurer, so much so that the military regiment in Germany he was assigned to was considered too boring by him. His personality and character were moulded by a difficult childhood at times. It was very liberating, but not without its problems with being bullied.
Engulfing viewers with footage from his expeditions, and endless contributions from friends, family and associations who know Ranulph better than even himself, Explorer is a documentary made with care, respect and affection for its leading man. It honestly depicts him as an inspiration and the greatest explorer that Britain has ever had. But there is also humour sprinkled in in doses by his friends, who claim, although he is the first man inducted into the Guinness Book of Records Hall of Fame, “In the context of the contemporary world, he is not a normal guy”.
We also get a chance to follow the “not-so-normal” Fiennes himself as he goes through his own later years, still with an adventurous flair at the age of 78, but forever carrying the grief of losing his first wife Ginny to cancer; a glimpse at his humility and the emotional scars he still bears today. Explorer covers every walkable inch of Fiennes’s life, and if you are as interested in the outdoors as he is, then this documentary is a pleasant and moving expedition.
Explorer is released nationwide on 14th July 2022.
Watch the trailer for Explorer here: