Everest – Film Review by Frances Winston
Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Jason Clarke, Josh BrolinMichael Kelly, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Emily Watson, Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Jake Gyllenhaal
In cinemas September 18th
Based on the true life events surrounding the 1996 Everest disaster in which eight people died on the summit of the mountain you know from the off the fate of most of the characters. Don’t let this detract from your enjoyment of this movie though as it is a visually stunning spectacle that doesn’t detract from the human story at its heart.
Events of that day have been well documented thanks to the fact that magazine journalist Jon Krakauer was a member of one of the climbing parties and an IMAX film crew were on the mountain at the time recording footage for a documentary. However that doesn’t detract from seeing these tragic events depicted dramatically. The story struck a chord as one of the victims was an experienced mountaineer and one of the party guides Rob Hall (played here by Clarke). He left behind a very heavily pregnant wife and in his dying moments was patched into her on his radio to say their goodbyes. Also lost was Scott Fischer, another well-known guide alongside Yasuko Namba who had achieved her ambition of reaching all seven of the world’s summits when she conquered Everest and Doug Hanson who had been on his second attempt to reach the top having failed first time round. Every single person here had bigger stories than just there ambition to summit Everest and Kormákur makes sure that we know them all before we reach the point of the disaster.
Many directors would have chosen spectacle over story in a movie like this but he manages to combine both beautifully. I saw this in IMAX 3D which really is the only way to see it. The mountain looks stunning and you really get a sense of its vastness. There are amazing performances here especially from Clarke and Emily Watson and, surprisingly, Kiera Knightley. Josh Brolin is also commendable as Buck Weathers who has one of the most extraordinary survival stories ever (trust me you’ll be googling him after this).
This manages to convey the tragedy and loss without getting too sentimental or schmaltzy. Yes, there are one or two twee moments but they can be forgiven when the rest of the film is so balanced. Instead of flying flags and hanging out bunting for dead heroes Kormákur simply shows the people behind the actions and lets you make up your own mind. A nice touch at the end is a slide show of the real life versions of all the people depicted which will definitely bring a lump to your throat after what you’ve just seen.
Even if you’ve no interest in the story this is worth a look for the simply stunning cinematography. However it is impossible not to be drawn into the tale and despite the inevitability of their fates you find yourself rooting for the climbers. This manages to be both moving and magnificent at the same time which is a rare combination and is the sort of film you will talk about for hours afterwards. Don’t wait on the DVD as this must be seen on a big screen and preferably in 3D!