It may surprise you a little that I am doing the Everest movie review. I watch movies infrequently and I hardly ever ‘review’ them, if I may call my random writing a review. But Everest is based on the tragedy that occurred on the mountain in 1996. And much before the movie was made I read two books on it, Into Thin Air and The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest. Both of them are make for compelling reading. They are about the same event and yet they offer such different perspectives. I enjoyed the movie much more because I had read the books.
Everest released world wide in this week and Seshadri, Chhavi and I went to watch the movie yesterday. I thought it was based on Into Thin Air but I realized they take into account the various perspectives. It is a big plus for the movie. Director Baltasar Kormakur in his Everest has made an immensely watchable movie supported by an able star cast.
If you have not read about the 1996 disaster and plan to watch the movie before reading anything you can stop reading this review now as it has spoilers.
The movie is about the disaster that unfolded on Everest on May 10, 1996. There were two large guided expeditions up the mountains led by Rob Hall (Adventure Consultants) and Scott Fischer (Mountain Madness). On Hall’s expedition was a journalist from the Outside magazine Jon Krakauer. Some say his presence added to the pressure to succeed at any cost but the other team too had a journalist. So I believe it is a bit unfair to single out Krakauer.
The movie portrays the world of guided expeditions brilliantly. Whether we agree with the philosophy of guided expeditions to Everest is another matter. On these guided expeditions clients paid (in 1996) up to 65,000 dollars to be guided up to the Everest. The presence of so many teams going to the summit on the same day, the pressure not being able to say no to a client, the level of climbing experience of the customers, all come into the play. For example Doug Hansen was ambling around much after the cut off time for the summit but Hall agrees to go with him to the summit, because he could not say no to him!
There are many controversies around the event and one of the most well known is between Jon Krakauer and Anatoli Boukreev leading to the publication of the rebuttal by Boukreev in his book ‘The Climb’. Boukreev was a guide with Fischer’s expedition ‘Mountain Madness.’ The movie steers away from them and manages to strike a balance between various accounts. This once again works splendidly for the movie.
The movie starts at people departing for Kathmandu, trekking up to the Everest Base Camp and then preparing for the climb. It then devotes the entire second half to the time when disaster strikes in the form of a fierce storm at the higher regions of Everest.
The stars have done justice to their roles. Jason Clark plays Rob hall, Jake Gyllenhaal plays the playful Scott Fischer and Kiera Nightly as Jan Hall. For me the most impressive was Emily Watson as her role of base camp manager Helen Wilton.
You will enjoy the movie even if you are not mad about mountains. And when you come across a scene which feels unrealistic, remember that is based on true accounts! However improbable some of the things feel they happened to real people!
My daughter asked me after the movie, “mama so what is the moral of the story?” This is what I said-
अपने औकत से ऊँचा पहाड़ नहीं चड़ना चाहिए। जब टीम लीडर बोले कि लौट चलो तो लौट जाना चाहिए। And as they said in the movie, “The mountain has the last word!”
For those of you who don’t read Hindi- We should not climb a mountain that is beyond us. When the team leader says we need to turn back, we turn back!
Do go and watch the movie Everest.
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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