Sometimes walking into a movie with no expectations can lead to a great viewing experience. This was the case with Everest. The posters were up and about all over London, more prominently on the red buses. The cast is impressive, from Josh Brolin to Keira Knightley, my interest was piqued.
Everest is a true story and is loosely based on the best selling book Into Thin Air. Since it’s based on a true story, one does wonder how much liberty the filmmakers will take to dramatize the storyline. On a side note, I read up on the true story accounts of the climbers, and the movie has accurately portrayed the accounts. No over dramatization of any sorts.
Needless to say, Everest is an experience to be witnessed on the big screen and in 3D.
We are introduced to a myriad of characters who all assemble at Luka base camp. One expedition, Adventure Consultants, is led by Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), whose team includes Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin) an experienced Texan climber, Doug Hansen, a mailman pursuing his dream and Yasuko Namba, a Japanese woman who has previously climbed six peaks and wants to conquer the seventh and last one. The other expedition group, Mountain Madness, is led by Scott Fisher (Jake Gylennhall). At the base camp is Helen (Emily Watson) who acts as their camp manager, communicating with the two groups through walkie talkies.
We are immersed within the group, as we get to see them talk about their passion and desire and the reasons for climbing Everest. With the gears and oxygen tanks in place, we get to follow the two groups as they proceed from one base camp to the next, with each ascent height mentioned on the screen. There is a sense of dread as oxygen levels reduced the higher everyone goes. Walking in groups, crossing over crevices, avoiding mini avalanches, there is a heightened sense of fear of the unknown. You know something will go wrong but not sure when.
Everyone do manage to reach to the top and in one of the best scenes in the movie, we get to experience what’s it like to be at the top of the world. The emotions run extremely high for everyone who manages to come here: a sense of achievement is deeply rooted in all of them. The Japanese woman proudly places the Japanese flag in a moment of national pride. Others just revel in the moment of being there. Time is short and one cannot stay too long at the top due to lack of oxygen.
The drama starts when a freak blizzard storms arrives, hampering the climbers’ descent. One loses his vision, others get frostbite. An avalanche comes out of nowhere, harming a few others. There are some deaths, as is the case in the true stories, and emotions run high as we root for everyone to come back to safety. Some survive, others don’t.
The only gripe I have with this movie is the inability to make me connect to the characters. With so many, it becomes slightly difficult to invest them emotionally. When on the mountains, they are mostly covered with their masks and hats, and so it becomes hard to decipher who’s who. However, post the half way point, we are focused on a few, and one death does resonate deeply, and tugs at your heart. Why, of all them, did this person have to die?
Having said that, the real star of the movie is mount Everest itself. The majestic mountains are so beautifully captured in all it’s glory. In this case, the big screen and the 3D effect is used magnificently and one does feel they are right there. It did help that the AC above us added to the chill factor and for a few minutes, we all felt like we were at the mountains. With each thunder, we felt the vibration. With each howling wind, we felt the chills. It was sensory overload as we were bombarded with wind, snow, thunder and lightning. The movie ends with a shot of the Everest, which makes you realize how small we human beings are in the face of nature.
Which brings me to the point: Everest silences you, in a weird way. Once you get to the top, you are literally on top of the world. You are cut off from the world and it’s myriad distractions. You are not bothered with the rat race or consumerism. Instead, you are connected with nature and the sensation of being able to do that is sheer delight. Once you do come to the real world, you yearn for that connection, that isolation, that moment to be on top of the world, away from the modern world.
The one thing Everest shows is the determination of the human spirit. There are men and women out there who want to conquer the world and will fight till the last breath to achieve their dreams. I loved witnessing these people, their resolve and determination, to fulfill their dreams.