When your next breath is nothing short of a miracle, tears streaming down your face as its warmth reminds you of the violent tragedy that befell on a snow covered beast – Everest.
“I quickly came to understand that climbing Everest was primarily about enduring pain. And in subjecting ourselves to week after week of toil, tedium, and suffering, it struck me that most of us were probably seeking above all else, something like a state of grace… This forms the nub of a dilemma that every Everest climber eventually comes up against: in order to succeed you must be exceedingly driven, but if you’re too driven you’re likely to die… Thus, the slopes of Everest are littered with corpses.” ― Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster
Everest takes us back to May of 1996, where skilled climbers were in great demand and there were few who successfully make it up and down the great mountain. Among these was Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), from Adventure Consultants New Zealand, who by that fatal year would have successfully climbed Mt. Everest five times. Due to the large turnout from the various people attempting to climb, there is a safety concern and would you believe ‘traffic’ to climb the mountain. Rob proposes a joined venture with a friendly rival, Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) from Mountain Madness. Scott agrees and even though they have vastly different styles there remains a mutual respect. The climbers are continually faced with difficulties and unforeseen setbacks. Then tragedy strikes during a severe snow storm. Anyone familiar with the events of that trip knows all too well how this story ends.
It is difficult to discern from whose perspective the story is told. The focus shifts primarily between Rob Hall and Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin). Writers William Nicholso and Simon Beaufoy used various sources to write the script and this is perhaps the reason for its lack of character depth. Unfortunately, Everest isn’t about the people, but the mountain. It is the focus, the leading lady, and a vicious beauty.
And as with all disaster stories there is that one person who needs to remain level headed, the anchor, who often becomes the bearer of bad news. This is base camp ‘mother’ Helen Wilton (Emily Watson), whose performance rips you more than any other. That being said, the whole ensemble was on point. You aren’t watching individual performances, but experiencing the chronicle events of a devastating story.
Due to its cinematic splender (credited to Salvatore Totino), Everest is truly breathtaking. I am not a fan of 3D films, but I have to credit IMAX for making this 3D experience very engaging. It will actually leave audiences gasping as your pulse raises from witnessing the many distressing circumstances the characters are faced with. It is definitely one of those films you have to watch on the biggest cinema screen possible. But it isn’t all disaster, there are some much needed lighter moments. It may start out as an adventurers dream but snowballs into a heartbreaking nightmare. And although you know the outcome, your humanity still routes for them to get up and finish.