After countless challenges, more than 6 years of filming and cut from a total of 800 hours of footage, director Ross Whitaker’s intimate portrait of Mark Pollock’s incredible story has made its way to UK cinemas for a much-anticipated release. New documentary Unbreakable: The Mark Pollock Story is a heart-wrenching testament to the strength and perseverance of one man – in the midst of impossible misfortune.
When Irish student Mark Pollock heard, from his hospital bed, news that shaped his country's history – the signing of the Good Friday agreement – he was completely unaware he'd never see again. With a detached retina at the age of five that left him blind in one eye, he now found himself in total darkness at twenty-two. But however daunting the circumstances, Pollock refused to be overcome by his dark new existence; adapting quickly to his difficult new surroundings, he went on to compete in ultra-endurance races across deserts, mountains and polar-ice caps.
Whitaker, a close friend of Pollock since their university days at Trinity College since Mark’s first going blind at 22, perfectly captures Pollock’s journey, the only way a close friendship can. Commencing filming during Pollock's expedition to the South Pole, Whitaker documents each emotional milestone following Mark’s fall and subsequent recovery period and paralysis with a rare, touching intimacy. Simone George, Mark’s fiancée, described the documentary as ‘an unusual set up, creating an intimate quality – there’s nothing I wouldn’t say in front of Ross. I was never second guessing myself.’
The documentary’s real strength is its avoidance of the emotionally weighing clichés that could easily have been employed in its narrative. The day-by-day routine of raw recovery footage shows the sheer strength, determination and steadfast love between Mark and Simone. For 6 weeks of the film, during their first trip to LA to work with Project Walk, George filmed the footage herself, as well as being Pollock's full-time carer, and described it as a vital part of Mark’s journey of rehabilitation: ‘[Filming] became almost cathartic. When you go through a trauma and a difficult time…the fact that we were recording it became part of the process of dealing with it’.
Despite covering emotionally heavy subject areas that could arguably be invasive for the couple, Whitaker's documentary is extremely uplifting, raising important issues surrounding paralysis and its treatment. Simone said of the reaction so far to Mark’s tireless work, ‘The coverage around the world for Mark’s research has been incredible – all worth giving up our personal lives for – I’m a very private person, but there’s a lot to be gained by letting people in’.
Pollock's tale may be a tragic one, but what Ross Whitaker's documentary looks to depict is one man's resilience in the midst of impossible misfortune. An uplifting tale of human endurance, new Mark Pollock documentary Unbreakable is the story of the man who refused to be broken.
Unbreakable: The Mark Pollock Story is released in UK cinemas on 9 October. The Mark Pollock Trust have also organised Run in the Dark on 11 November.
|What||Unbreakable: The Mark Pollock Story|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
09 Oct 15 – 01 Dec 15, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
|Price||£ determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here to go to the Mark Pollock film site|