"He showed us that anything is possible, that even men might soar like eagles"
BASE jumping, sometimes written as B.A.S.E. jumping involves parachuting or wingsuit flying. This takes place from a cliff or a firmly implanted structure. B.A.S.E., an acronym, represents the four categories one can jump from, e.g. a building, antenna, span and the Earth (i.e. a cliff).
BASE jumping is substantially more dangerous than skydiving from a plane because of the lower altitudes of the jumps. Some authorities prohibit BASE jumping. It has, however, become known to the wider public via depictions in a number of action movies, including the 2014 documentary Sunshine Superman.
Carl Boenish was the one to coin the acronym ‘B.A.S.E.”, and in1978 he filmed the first BASE jumps made using ram-air parachutes and the freefall tracking technique, where an individual will assumes a body position which allows them to move horizontally while freefalling. BASE numbers are awarded to those who make one jump from at least each of the four categories previously stated.
B.A.S.E. jumping is by no means a new conundrum.
Dr Omer Mei-Dan is an Israeli BASE jumper, stuntman and orthopaedic surgeon, and says he gets a kick out of jumping and its associated risks. “I like being afraid, I like the fear, I enjoy it,” he said. “In BASE jumping, every small thing dictates life or death. It makes me feel vibrant. Extreme sports athletes have the ability to sustain, cope with and enjoy the amount of stress other people would define as bad experiences.”
BASE has been popular for decades, perhaps a result of its appearance in major films like Batman Begins, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Star Trek, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and the London Olympics 2012, base jump stunt used doubling in for Daniel Craig and HRM The Queen.
The 2017 film BASE combines traditional cinema with fictional narrative. It is the first feature to fuse these two elements together, and with some amount of success. Uninhibitedly it shows us breathtaking views from around the world, and through the eyes of the world’s best wingsuit flyers.
From Brazil to Switzerland we sneak a peek at the world of B.A.S.E. jumping, and learn what it means to live life on the precipice of death, as the jumpers launch from iconic exit points, including a duel-flyby of the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio.
Although I remain unconvinced by the film’s execution, I take my hat off to its makers for its authenticity.
BASE is in UK Cinemas now and available Worldwide on iTunes and On Demand from 6th November