The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.
- Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
In the fall of 2011, 24 year-old Sam Fox will embark on one of the greatest physical challenges imaginable: attempting to break the speed record on the 2650-mile long Pacific Crest Trail. To do it he will need to finish in 60 days, covering an average of 44 miles each day, pushing his body to the brink of destruction. Sam sees this as an opportunity to test himself. But what really motivates a person to challenge himself so brutally?
For half of his life, Sam has watched his mother’s escalating struggle with Parkinson’s disease, and seeing her mobility decline has influenced his sense of the body’s limitations. Over the course of the 60-day run, his body will deteriorate. The stress will take its physical toll, putting him at risk for broken bones and long-term injuries. The chance of failure is high, and whether he finishes will be determined more by the strength of his mind than his body.
Imposing such demands on himself has a empathetic quality that draws parallels with the challenges that his mother faces daily. Unlike his mother, however, Sam’s struggle is voluntary, a choice. We want to create a film that explores the idea of empathy, of submerging oneself in the extremes of a challenge as a way of emulating another’s strength. Is it selfishness or the absence of self? What does it mean to honor someone? Do actions speak louder than words?
Relationships within families are complex. Words cannot always articulate the complexities of those bonds, and so affection and understanding are often communicated indirectly through gestures and actions. A mother’s illness alters these patterns in a profound way, drawing unique reactions from those close to her. This film examines how a youngest son copes with his mother’s struggle with Parkinson’s disease, by choosing to endure a physical test to demonstrate emotions that words cannot express.