Archive for September, 2015

Everest – 2015 Movie

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

As some of you may be aware, this month Universal Pictures released a new movie simply titled Everest. I’ve had a few people ask me what I think of it (before the movie even came out, based on just the trailer), and so I decided early on to go see the movie and see how it comes across to someone who has climbed Everest.

First of all, if you watch the trailer, you might expect the movie to be over the top dramatic and intense, too much so to be real. Well, I think the trailer does not do the movie justice; the movie itself is more down-to-earth. Don’t get me wrong, there are some very intense parts of the movie; in fact I found myself sweating and in suspense for a good part of the film. However, it’s based on more than just the intense visuals and music that the trailer shows.

The scenes where they actually show the mountain, or the hike to base camp, or the monasteries, they are all genuine. The shots of the mountain are absolutely accurate; I found myself thinking “yup, there’s the western cwm; there’s Lhotse; that does look like the view from the south summit”. Seen on the big IMAX screen, the mountain shots were quite spectacular. If anything, I think they didn’t have enough of these mountain shots.

Something you might want to know about this movie: it is based on real events that took place on Everest in 1996. There was a book written about all these events by Jon Krakauer, who was one of the climbers on the mountain that year. He is actually portrayed in the movie by House of Cards’ Michael Kelly. However, this movie is not based on his book. It is based on many other sources: people who were there, other people’s books of that expedition, tapes of radio transmissions, etc.

(In fact, I just read an article where Jon claims the movie is not very accurate, compared to his book. I would say the movie is accurate enough for portraying Everest itself, but not having been there in 1996, I can’t comment on the accuracy of all the events themselves. I’m sure there will always be differing stories about anything that happened on Everest, due to the fact that at such an altitude, people’s brains are affected so much that memories can’t really be trusted to be complete. Plus, I don’t think the movie ever attempted to be a documentary; some creative license was surely used.)

Speaking of accuracy in portraying the mountain itself, I think the movie does a good job of showing what it’s like to climb the mountain, without being overly dramatic about it. When they do get dramatic, it’s because things got a lot more interesting than on a normal climb like mine. So all in all, I think they do a good job of using film to show someone who knows nothing about Everest some of the smaller details of what climbers go through. As for the realness of the terrain, with snow, ice, rocks, tents, crevasses, for the most part that is also pretty solid. There are a couple of scenes where I could tell that they were using fake snow, but for the most part that was pretty well done.

If you’re undecided about going to see the film, I recommend going. It’s not quite a documentary, it is still Hollywood, but I think it’s a nice little story and it’s entertaining. I liked it enough that I will probably buy it once it comes out on home video (mostly for the behind-the-scenes and other bonus features).

If you do go see it let me know what you think, or let me know if you have any questions about Everest or my experience of it!