Just a few days ago, I came across a trailer on Vimeo for a documentary about skylining. For the entirety of the 3 minutes and 45 seconds of this video I was enraptured. Watching these crazy French men walk a tight rope between two precipices, proceed to jump from said rope, and fall into the abyss before pulling their parachutes was like nothing I had ever seen before. I have been skydiving before, but this is a whole different genre of extreme sports. The full 40-minute documentary was released today and it definitely did not disappoint. Watching these men and women venture into areas few people have ever even seen is captivating enough on its own. The documentary begins in Paris, where these skyliners have strung a slack line between the two tallest buildings in the city. By the end they have reached their destination: Norway. The eerily soothing mist, moss-covered rocks, and occasional duo of sheep make for a gorgeous backdrop to their thrill-seeking feats. One of the most striking elements of the video, aside from people flying off of cliffs, is the commentary that goes along with it. These French men explain that skylining is a sport that involves cooperation and companionship–it simply cannot be done alone or in pairs. You need a team of people who each bring something unique to the group. Alone, a skyliner is nothing, but with a group (and a parachute) he can do anything…even fly.
Another interesting aspect of this video is the obvious pursuit of cheating death. I am currently reading La Voie royale by André Malraux, a book very reminiscent of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness which pulls in the theme of pursuing danger and defying death, for it is only when we come to the brink of losing our lives that we learn to really appreciate each and every breath that is given to us. I see this written all over “I Believe I Can Fly”. These men constantly talk about the rush, the thrill of jumping out into the unknown. The rush doesn’t come from the jump itself. While you’re plummeting through the air your mind is racing so fast and trying to comprehend what’s happening that you don’t even have a chance to understand the scope of what you’ve done. The rush comes from realizing that you came so close to death yet made it out alive. It is an incredible mix of joy, energy, and excitement that I had never felt before and haven’t felt since skydiving. While on an intellectual level skylining seems like a completely insane thing to attempt, emotionally I understand exactly what these Frenchies are chasing each time they string a slack line across these great voids. They are constantly chasing death, something they strive to pursue yet never reach. For it is when you come face-to-face to death that you can truly see life.
Hope you enjoy the documentary!