Based on the true story of the Everest disaster in 1996, when two expedition parties got into major trouble when a storm suddenly came in and 12 people in total from each group, including their leaders, were lost to the mountain.
Jason Clarke plays Rob Hall, the much loved, leader of the New Zealand group, who takes up quite the varied personalities. We have the only female of the group, a Japanese lady (Naoko Mori from Torchwood) who is hoping to complete Everest to make it 7 out of 7 of the worlds peaks. We have a Texan, Beck Weathers, (Josh Brolin) who is fighting depression and has discovered he loves to pour his heart and soul into climbing. Then we have Doug Hansen John Hawkes) who is a US Postal worker, who is climbing to show his children that an ordinary man can do the extraordinary, hoping to achieve the summit after failing twice.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Scott Fischer, the hippy leader of the other group who has a complete different climbing style and ethic from Rob, but ultimately they both respect one another.
The first half of the movie is spent setting up the characters, sprinkling of back stories, and generally setting the scene for why Everest is so hard and complicated – you are climbing the same height that a 747 flies when the human body is literally dying from the lack of oxygen. The movie does a wonderful job at setting this scene and you have a new found respect and background for this huge lump of rock sticking out between Nepal and China.
Then we move to the second half of the story where the groups being their ascent. Now at this point in, while the scenery and sweeping landscapes are beautiful, you no longer have any real clue who is who, as they are wrapped up completely. Small tip – keep track of each characters colour.
I am not going to spoil the story too much but even when you know most of them lose their lives it is still exciting and emotional to hold you to your seat. Bit like watching the Titanic, you know the boat is going down, but you still manage to cry and hope they may make it.
Even though Keira Knightley (who plays Rob’s wife) filmed her scenes in only 4 days as she doesn’t physically interact with any of the characters except over a phone, the phone calls between her and Rob really pull at your heart strings.
For all the technology in the world, we still can’t make the worlds largest mountain anywhere near remotely safe. I find that comforting as it illustrates the world has many a challenge for the human to figure out.
If you are interested in the real people behind this story, then take some time and watch the PBS Storm Over Everest on YouTube. It illustrates just how close this movie was to the action and the facts that were known from those that survived. I found this added a whole new depth to the movie and to be frank, quite keen to go back to see it again to see how some of the events dramatized knowing what I know now.
This was a griping tale that opened my eyes up to not only this horrific tale, but the challenges and rigors of Everest. If the movie grips you like it did me, you will find yourself reading and watching as much as you can after you get out.
Saturday, 26th September 2015