“Human beings are not meant to survive at the cruising altitude of a 747”.
On 11 May 1996, two expedition groups – Adventure Consultants led by New Zealander Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) and Mountain Madness led by Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) – attempted to summit Earth’s highest mountain, Mount Everest. Tragedy hit when eight people died on the mountain after getting caught in a violent blizzard. Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur (2 Guns) recounts the events in the epic biographical drama, Everest.
After disastrous events of 1996 on Mount Everest, the commercialisation of the mountain has been widely criticised. To this day, controversy still surrounds the events of that fateful day. Kormákur directs the epic piece by shifting away from the blame and instead focusing on the harrowing journey of summiting the renowned mountain. Just as epic as the subject matter, the film itself is a substantially monumental production. Assembling a large cast against a mammoth terrain is no easy feat, however, Kormákur excels in creating an intensely painful account of 1996 events.
Aside from Hall and Fischer, the amongst the others include doctor Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), Outside magazine journalist Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly), mailman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), renowned Japanese mountaineer Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori) and guide Andy Harris (Martin Henderson). Not to be overshadowed by the domineering mountain, the ensemble cast display intense, demanding performances that capture the fatiguing experience of summiting the mountain.
Amidst the adventure of Everest is the menacing, palpable feel of impending death. With or without the background knowledge of the events, the ominous feeling is apparent. Factual yet emotional, the film shows the events before the tragic occurrence, detailing background information on the climbers; Rob’s decision to summit whilst his wife Jan (Keira Knightley) was pregnant and Beck’s difficulty with depressive thoughts and disconnection with wife Peach (Robin Wright). A fair combination of both elements enabled Everest to have a stronger emotional impact, especially towards the climax of the film.
Kormákur’s film shows the detrimental effects of mountaineering on the mental and physical human body and the gruelling journey of summiting up the world’s highest mountain. The star of the film is of course, Mount Everest, standing as an impenetrable, monstrous force of nature. A treacherous beauty, Mount Everest is the film’s undeniable star attraction. Kormákur creates an authentic account with scenic shots of Mount Everest and on-location at Everest Base Camp in Nepal and Otztala Alps in Italy.
An account of punishing beauty of Mount Everest and the devastating events of 1996, Everest is a painfully magnificent film.
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