The Orion

“Everest” Will Leave You Breathless

Erin Vierra

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In Jon Krakauer’s bestseller, “Into Thin Air,” he writes, “with enough determination, any bloody idiot can get up this hill…the trick is to get back down alive.”

That is the ultimate struggle that faces the actors in the new adventure thriller “Everest,” a film based on the disaster that occurred on Mount Everest back in 1996.

There is something widely fascinating about climbing mountains that sends people to go to the extreme; to try and conquer nature. People pay thousands of dollars to hike dangerous summits for that thrill-seeking feeling. For them, it’s about getting as close as humanly possible get to seeing raw beauty.

It’s that insane fascination that brings two expedition teams of both ordinary people and experienced climbers to scale one of the highest, most dangerous peaks that, more often than not, only leads to tragedy.

The Plot

“Everest” brings a group of well-known actors to depict the ill-fated excursion including Jason Clarke (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”), Josh Brolin (“No Country for Old Men”), Jake Gyllenhaal (“Brokeback Mountain”), and John Hawkes (“Deadwood”) to name a few.

The film follows the two rival expedition teams lead by experienced climbers, Rob Hall (Clarke) and Scott Fisher (Gyllenhaal) as they climb to the top of Everest. Things take a turn for the worst when a violent storm strikes the mountain without warning while the group of men are descending down. It is a fight for survival that would lead eight of them dead.

The story is not an adaptation of Krakauer’s book which depicts his own harrowing account of the event since he was one of the climbers. Instead it is loosely inspired on the many books written about the expedition, presenting a reimagined tale of that ill-fated trek up the mountain.

Women Left Hanging?

Though “Everest” is a male-driven movie, it is a shame to see the women marginalized here. Naoko Mori is wasted even though she is the only female climber in the group while Keira Knightley and Emily Watson give some of the film’s best performances in the least amount of screen time.

Knightley plays Hall’s pregnant wife. Her attempt to motivate her husband to come home is heartbreaking to watch.

Watson, the base camp coordinator, keeps audiences on edge as they watch her in horror while listening to radio transmissions. Hers is a different helplessness than Knightley’s but it’s just as heartbreaking. She is unable to do anything from her safe, cozy place at the base.

Director Baltasar Kormakur conveys the horror people face when climbing these kinds of mountains depicting it in harrowing detail. Audiences witness reality of snow-blindness, frostbite, and the perils of falling. Towards the beginning of the film, Hall explains to his team that they will “literally be dying” the higher they climb.

“Everest” is a story of courage and sacrifice. It portrays the will to survive under unimaginable forces but it also reminds audiences that when it comes to nature, we are powerless to its indifference.

Erin Vierra can be reached at [email protected] or @hippycinephile on Twitter.

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“Everest” Will Leave You Breathless