In 1996 , eight climbers got caught in a blizzard and died while attempting to climb Mt. Everest. They achieved their goal of reaching the summit, but in doing so lost their lives. The events of the 1996 Everest disaster were made famous by author and climber Jon Krakauer in his riveting book, Into Thin Air. Krakauers account of what happened on the mountain makes for a real page turner, so much so, that I read the entire book in one day.
This week, the movie Everest was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital download. I don’t know how I missed this one in the theater, but I was excited to see the events of the 1996 Everest disaster recounted on the silver screen. Starring Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Robin Wright, Sam Worthington, and Keira Knightley, this film packs some serious star power. In my opinion though, it was lead actor Jason Clarke who steals the show.
Clarke plays guide Rob Hall of Adventure consultants, and brought a life to this character that I didn’t quite get from Into Thin Air. The opening sequences of the movie start with Hall saying goodbye to his pregnant girlfriend (Keira Knightly) in a New Zealand airport. He then meets up in Kathmandu with the group of climbers who are paying him as a guide to lead them to the summit of Everest. His team consisted of Frank Fischbeck, Doug Hansen, Stuart Hutchison, Lou Kasischke, Jon Krakauer, Yasuko Namba, John Taske, and Beck Weathers. Beck is one of the more memorable characters in this movie, a strong willed Texan short on experience, but high on confidence. I was also drawn to the story of Yasuko Namba, a 47 year old Japanese woman who climbed the Seven Summits. Then of course there is Jon Krakauer, played by Michael Kelly. He was the only one in the group not paying to be there. He was a journalist on assignment for Outside Magazine.
After leaving Kathmandu, the crew heads to Everest Basecamp. From the moment the climbers begin to acclimatize, you get a sense of the dangers that lie around every corner for those aspiring to reach the summit of Everest. One of the more gripping scenes was when Beck (Josh Brolin) was hiking on a ladder over a crevasse. This is the scene depicted in the main title image above.
Climbing Mt. Everest is a real challenge, even though it’s been heavily commercialized. 1996 was the year these hand-holding guided companies really started to take off, a point made clear by character Rob Hall as he talked to American guide, Scott Fisher, of Mountain Madness. The debate as to what truly happened, who was at fault, and who could have been saved, will never be agreed upon by everyone, but this movie does a great job of presenting a cinematic retelling of the events while staying true to the story. From the moment the Adventure Consultants team reaches the summit of Everest and begins their fateful descent, you feel every twist and turn right along with the characters.
The cinematography for this movie is incredible. Director, Baltasar Kormákur, did a masterful job of meshing real life climbing sets with CGI and green screen sets for a fully immersive experience that makes the viewer feel as though they’re on the mountain. The attention to detail was incredible to see. All of the actors worked well as a cast, and you can tell they had a great time shooting. I would become an actor overnight if all gigs were like this one!
The one knock I have on this film is a personal one. I didn’t like how invisible the sherpas were. This is a problem all too common in the telling and retelling of westerners’ mountain adventures in the Himalayas. I understand this is a Hollywood production and there is only so much budget and screen time available, but I would have liked to see a little bit more of the sherpas story told in this movie.
Everest was a really good movie, and one I recommend for all hikers, trekkers, climbers, and mountaineers. It’s rare we get a great Hollywood production that focuses on the activities we love, and does so without any nonsense.
Have you seen Everest? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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32 thoughts on “Movie Review: Everest (2015)”
Enjoyed your review! I’ve been meaning to watch this.
Thanks, Molly! I think you’ll like it!
Have you seen “Meru” ? It’s a documentary about climbers on Mount Meru in the Himalayas… and I’ve been wanting to go watch it for months but it hasn’t happened. It’s also nominated for an Oscar.
I haven’t seen Meru yet, but I really want to!
I loved the movie. It stayed true to the real life events and there were not so many “frills around the edges” so to speak. Lots of raw moments but I agree, sherpas are integral to any climb and the movie could have portrayed more of their story.
Thanks for your thoughts, Sarah. Hollywood productions are always a mixed bag in that regard. So often they have to ensure a return on investment for the studios, and for whatever reason, a homogeneous cast is their way of doing that.
Thanks, I loved Krakauer’s book, so will have to check out this movie.
I loved his book as well. It was a great read.
Great review. Haven’t seen Everest but I’d like to.
I saw it in 3D IMAX and loved it. I wish it had been running in regular IMAX because I don’t particularly enjoy 3D. In 3D movies, since everything is fighting for your attention, they tend to force your focus by blurring out what they don’t want you to look at. This was particularly annoying in Everest as there were many times that I wanted to enjoy the amazing scenery but, say, Jake Gyllenhaal’s beard was the focus (which I supposed was impressive as well).
I’m sure it was a real experience to see in 3D IMAX. I’m like you in that I’m not so fond of 3D though. Gyllenhaal’s beard was impressive, though!
I think Hall embodies the life of the Sherpa, being the tour guide here.
Good point, Nirav.
I like this movie better than Vertical Limit, but agree that there was more needed about the sherpas as because they are such a huge part of the expeditions.
My thoughts, exactly.
Have had 2 boxes from cairn….I know we spoke about it before. Let me know & I will email you what I think.
I enjoyed Everest, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of unease I had around this story ever since I read Krakauer’s account. I read his book, and I was a bit crossed to read his judgement of Anatoli Boukreev. The man saved lives, up there, and was the only one to head out times and times again to save people, even those who weren’t his “clients”.
I agree with you on that. Krakauer’s account of things left me feeling a bit crossed as well. I know that Anatoli Boukreev wrote a book after Krakauer’s was released. I’d like to read that one soon.
I read a book made by himself and Simone Moro, whom used to climb with him and who was with him when Boukreev died (perhaps it’s the same book?).
I think that might be the book I was looking at. I’ll have to download for my Kindle.
Thanks for the review. Added it to my viewing list;)
I’ve taken a personal challenge to go on 1000 trips and finish on Everest. I’m writing on it in a blog. If you have a chance I’d love it if you can give it a look. and would love to take with you personally on your experiences with Everest and the other 8000+ meter peaks.
Wow, that’s a pretty awesome personal challenge. I look forward to tracking you’re progress. I’m planning on doing Rainier this year, Denali next year, and maybe something like Everest in a few years.
Thank you, I still have many necessary skills to acquire till Everest. Hopefully in a few years I’ll also be Everest ready. 😀👍🏿
Meru is better. It just gives you more insight into the climb !!
I still need to see that one, I’ve heard a lot of great things.
I enjoyed it, but not as much as I thought I would. I prefer Into the Wild, for example, but I am going to read the book that inspired the tale. I saw it when I had been travelling for nearly 30 hours so I wasn’t in the best of moods when I watched it 😛
Into The Wild is a great one. I can understand your feelings after travelling for 30 hours. Very few movies would hold my attention after traveling for that long 🙂
peak you need more followers and I know how you can get them all you have to do is climb Mt,Everest.
Haha, sounds like a plan!
It is a bit sad that so little attention is paid to the death of Scott Fisher and Rob Hall has become the tragic hero.