Greetings again from the darkness. Not so long ago, it was a compliment to be called “a man’s man.” It was a term of endearment and respect that meant a man was strong, quiet, adventurous, and trustworthy. Sir Ranulph Fiennes, born Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 3rd Baronet, fit the bill. He refused the royal title saying being born into it is not the same as earning it. The man-the myth-the legend is cousin to actors Joseph and Ralph Fiennes, and has been better labeled as “the greatest living explorer”, and documentarian Matthew Dyas wants us to know all about him.
An astonishing list of ‘Ran’s’ (as he prefers to be called) exploits, adventures, and records scrolls over the film’s opening. We don’t even have time to absorb what we’re being fed, but the first thought is … no one man could have done all of this. Director Dyas takes us through Ran’s childhood and his service in the Army. Turns out, he was always one to push boundaries. A significant portion of the film is spent detailing the long-time relationship between Ran and his first wife, Ginny. She was his biggest supporter, and the love of his life. We learn this, and much more, through the fantastic archival footage, photographs, and audio recordings, the latter of which are used instead of the customary talking heads posed for the camera.
This is a man who traversed the planet through both poles. Ran takes us through the process of cutting off the tips of his own frostbite-damaged fingers on his left hand by using a hacksaw and having Ginny assist. We learn about his heart attack, which caused him to ‘take it easy’ as he ran 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents (known as the World Marathon Challenge). When Ginny was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2004, she encouraged him to re-marry. He did so to Louisa, with whom he fathered his only child. After the wedding, Ran headed back to Mount Everest, and at age 65, was successful on what was his third attempt. He also self-treats his Parkinson’s with frigid sea water.
Perhaps “a man’s man” is not so fitting for Ranulph Fiennes. With this being a partial list of what he’s done in his life, there can be no other man who belongs to his club. Of course, he has his detractors, and director Dyas allows those to have their say. But the actual video footage and recollections of those who knew him are simply too amazing to disparage. He’s now 78 years old and still has his adventure goals. Learning about Ranulph Fiennes is likely to humble you and hopefully inspire a few to push those boundaries.
Available on Digital and On Demand beginning August 30, 2022