Review of Everest (2015)
Mountaineers often share a one-sided relationship with mountains. They do not necessarily get the love back! Mountains behave to their will, live by their own and retain their self-composure indifferent to the time or living beings in proximity. That is why climbers can reach the summit but not win the mountain. They never can. If a mountain is won, it no longer remains a mountain. It reduces to a pile of rocks.
The film Everest understands well the fundamentally free nature of mountains. It could be because the film presents a real-life case that naturally observes this fact. But also because film makers made an effort to understand and accept it. Everest is not a tale of exaggerated heroism. Although the story has a lot of moments when characters could go out-of-the-way to save other troupe members, or demonstrate few acrobatics on snow. Fortunately, they do not. The film is also light on drama, except some portion around the dying Rob.
The 120 minute adventure-thriller keeps you on the edge of your seat with many breath taking shots of Great Himalayas. I will not call it special however as one only needs a helicopter to fly around for these shots. The aesthetics were readymade since 450 million years back when the Himalayas were born.
Instead the real skills on camera are demonstrated in climbing shots framing the climbing trails in an absolutely inspirational manner. And the camera just fires up during the hail storm creating the needed velocity and ferociousness.
Viewers would enjoy the Everest travelogue- looking at the response of families as they see-off their kin to most dangerous of the expeditions, or how people unite at the Everest base camp, how expedition is managed by professional staff, the churning climb-up, bewitching summit clash and the flustering walk back to the lower camps. The story is compact, and keeps a solid pace. This simultaneously means film never enters the cervices, keeping a strong foot on the broad, top edge.
Certainly no points are scored by the film on focusing at the psychology of mountaineers, and sadly neither on the finer aspects of climbing as a skill and art. There is a bit of a mountaineer’s mental process in the conversation when Beck tells Doug, he is surrounded by a sort of ‘depression’ at home, and it disappears when he climbs. And in the same follow-up they talk about suffering during the climb, and how it would end upon reaching back home. It is a common cycle for climbers, and in fact everyone who traverse the wild, to look upon their trail like madmen until it happens, then suffer its consequences, finally craving for the home they explicitly abhorred at the start.
Other than this insight, audience would no where feel the passion, grit and conditions that prepare those who engage in high altitude climbs. They’ll also have no clue on the technical attributes of trails, ropes, hooks, weather forecast and equipment. I had no doubt that such a direction had made the film an Adventure Classic.
If you love mountains, like the wild- go watch Everest.
Here’s some background to the movie