Everest (2015) “Movie Review”

I have read “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, and I have read some other accounts on 1996 Everest tragedy. I do not agree with Krakauer in most parts, but I will try to stay unbiased in my review. I will not discuss the story in bits and pieces to avoid spoilers, and I won’t compare it with any book. Everest movie exceeded my expectations by not being entirely based on Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air.” Movie instead was based on several accounts, like The Climb of Anatoli, Left for Dead of Weathers, Into Thin Air and I could recall few parts of Lene Gammelgard’s Climbing High.

Everest movie looks very rushed in the beginning. Adventure Consultants team see off their families and fly to Nepal, give briefing to their clients and head to Everest base camp. The beginning was very rushed, director Baltasar Kormakur failed to build characters and emotions. First half of a movie is the part where characters are built and emotions introduced, director completely failed to do so.

Everest movie slightly hits the idea of commercial expeditions. Rob Hall (team leader of Adventure Consultants) was pioneer who introduced commercial mountaineering on Everest; many teams followed his footsteps and figured out a way to earn money. Rob Hall finds out that there are around 20 expeditions on Everest. Leader of South African Team is shown teaching his team how to wear crampons (people who don’t know how to wear crampons are there to climb Everest). In another scene Beck Weathers while hanging on the ladder tells Rob Hall that he has paid $65,000. Apart from these things, there was pressure on Rob Hall to do better (in short take everyone to summit), because Jon Krakauer (a journalist) was in his team. Movie held the commercial mountaineering as one of the main reasons for 1996 incident on Everest.

Everest movie sets many accounts straight; Anatoli’s story is one of them. Russian guide Anatoli who saved lives of three climbers and dragged them to camp 4 in 1996, he is hailed as hero by those who were rescued by him. Jon Krakauer in his book portrayed him as villain. Scott Fischer character however was wrongly portrayed in the movie, Scott was portrayed as a hippie who is arrogant and keeps drinking all the time in Everest base camp. According to Lene Gammelgard (one of the survivors):

In reality not a drop of alcohol was drunk in base camp (apart from the chhaang the lamas used when blessing the climbers). The human body just can´t perform what´s needed for a summit attempt, if hung ower!Top of Form

Anatoli Boukreev in Everest Base camp in 1996. (Photo: Lene Gammelgaard)
Anatoli Boukreev in Everest Base camp in 1996. (Photo: Lene Gammelgaard)
Scott Fischer in Westen cwm. photo: Lene Gammelgaard
Scott Fischer in Westen cwm. photo: Lene Gammelgaard

Video Scenes of Western cwm, Everest base camp, South col, Hillary step and Everest summit were authentic. These scenes were shot by David Breashers, who is a well known adventure photographer and film maker. Most of the scenes were shoot in Italy, but authentic scenes were added where needed to increase authenticity. Cinematography was brilliant, 3d scenes were amazing, few scenes were distracting. Over all, cinematography was Hollywood style with authenticity added by videos of David Breashers. Does not matter how amazing the video scenes are, they start to feel boring if emotions are missing (which were clearly missing apart from few phone calls between Rob Hall and his wife, and few dialogues of Doug held emotions).

Overall movie was a bit lost between a documentary and a Hollywood style movie. Movie sounds like a documentary in some parts and in other parts is sounds like a Hollywood style drama. Movie (from Hollywood point of view) should have started with emotions, dreams and characters and then move slowly to action and thrill the audience in last part. In my opinion movie failed to thrill the audience up to a point, it should have. Guy Cotter (guide of Adventure Consultants) was consulted by director to keep climbing scenes authentic, feels like director was a bit lost between try to create a blockbuster and try to keep it authentic like a documentary.

Beck Weathers, one of the survivors who lost his fingers and nose. Photo: Lene Gammelgaard
Beck Weathers, one of the survivors who lost his fingers and nose. Photo: Lene Gammelgaard

I personally appreciate the effort of director Baltasar Kormukur for stepping in and making a high budget movie on mountain climbing. I believe more of these movies are needed (if they don’t falsify the true accounts of mountaineering legends). Hollywood is a great way to attract masses to outdoor sports.

For live updates on mountaineering: @NorthmenPk on Twitter and https://www.facebook.com/TheNorthmenPakistan on fb.

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