Published May 06, 2008A stunning voyage into the disturbing world of Frank Cole, a Canadian filmmaker whose singular obsession with the Sahara consumed him until his untimely death in that very desert.
Cole is best known for his epic journey across the Sahara, which he embarked upon alone in the beginning of the 90s. With little more than a camel, some supplies and a camera, Cole made the gruelling 7,300-kilometre trek in just under a year, miraculously surviving the many perils of the worlds largest desert. Cole spent the next ten years editing the film he shot there, Life Without Death. The images of dead animals, endless sand dunes and of course, Cole himself are haunting, and his narration reveals a man consumed by thoughts of mortality and a deep love of the desert landscape that eventually led to his death.
When his film was nearly completed, Cole returned to the Sahara to shoot more footage, intending to cross the desert once again. Tragically, he was killed by bandits just a few months into his second crossing. Though an investigation remains open, there is little hope of ever fully unravelling the mystery of his final hours. Filmmaker Korbett Matthews intersperses footage from Life Without Death and Coles earlier films amongst interviews with his family and friends.
The film reveals a portrait of a man who was full of deep passions and even deeper contradictions. Nobody knows why Frank felt the need to retrace his death defying steps across the desert a second time, and his own piercing stare into the camera lens yields no clues. Yet somehow against the terrifyingly vast and desolate backdrop of the Sahara, both his life and death seem a little bit more comprehensible. (Independent)