Everest (2015)
September 25, 2015 5:55 AM - Subscribe

In 1996, climbers from two guided expedition companies are stranded near the top of Mt. Everest in a brutal snowstorm.

The incident is probably most known through Jon Krakauer's bestselling book, Into Thin Air.

(Bonus link: CBS "60 Minutes" interview with Krakauer from June 1996, just weeks after returning from the tragedy.)

Everest director Baltasar Kormákur clarifies film's source material The script derives more from Beck Weathers' own book, Left For Dead, along with audio tapes from the actual day which had not been heard in 18 years.

Hollywood Knocks Off 'Everest' at Last - Outside Magazine interview with cast and crew.

How Hollywood Filmed a Movie on Everest - Outside Magazine interview with cameraman Kent Harvey.

For Beck Weathers, 'Everest' 'takes me apart,' but a sense of humor keeps him together (L.A. Times article)

Further reading: The Climb - guide Anatoli Boukreev's account of the events, after feeling slighted by Krakauer's version.

Triage in the Death Zone - article about Dr. Stuart Hutchinson, one of the climbers who survived the disaster. (Found in this previous MeFi post.)
posted by dnash (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Other Mt. Everest-related posts from MeFi (not related to the 1996 events):

Deadliest Day On Everest - regarding an avalanche in 2014 that killed 16 Sherpa guides who were ascending the Khumbu icefall.

(Side link: Krakauer writing for The New Yorker about the 2014 tragedy.)

World's Highest Fight (2013)

Gigapixel Everest (Original link dead, content appears to live on at this site)

"So why did 10 people die in 2012?"

Mount Everest Traffic Jam (2012)

Corpses on Everest (2010)

Helmet cam video of crossing the icefall

And I think it was this 2003 post from Mathowie where I first learned what "a thing" climbing Everest had become.

posted by dnash at 5:57 AM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I read Krakauer's Into Thin Air many years ago, that was my only other exposure to this story (and my memory of the book is extremely fuzzy) so I really don't know how accurate this movie is.

The effects in the movie are amazing, truly...There are plenty of scenes/shots that I thought could not have been filmed in environments like the ones they portray, but other than some distant vista shots of terrifying weather I never once felt like I was looking at effects or soundstages.

I felt that the emotional aspects of the story are sold pretty short. The most I felt was sharing the Japanese climber's emotion when she reached her seventh peak and planted her flag (I actually got a little choked up), but somehow most of the horrific and tragic elements late in the movie are presented as so straightforward that they pretty much bounced right off of me. I was thinking about The Perfect Storm (the movie) after I saw this, and how that one laid the emotion on really thickly -- presumably chasing those Titanic dollars -- and somewhat clumsily...Everest didn't quite work for me either, but in the opposite way. I could have used a teeny bit more cloying to connect me to it (just not to Perfect Storm-movie levels, please...No implied psychic bonds between lovers necessary).
posted by doctornecessiter at 6:32 AM on September 25, 2015

I really liked that they didn't over-"action movie" it. They stuck pretty close to the facts, at least as I remember them. (It's been years since I read the Krakauer book - I haven't read other books but at the time I also read a few of the articles particularly about the rift between Krakauer and Bourkreev.) It does suffer a bit from being hard to keep track of who's who under all those puffy down jackets, and who's where.

I could have used a teeny bit more cloying to connect me to it

I know what you mean. One of the biggest moments is when Rob Hall agrees to try and help Doug to the summit despite his condition and how late in the day it is. It's the choice that seals both their fates, and the movie doesn't really give it the "oomph" one might expect. But I can imagine maybe that was on purpose - because it's not like Hall knew what a mistake that truly was in the moment. I still found it pretty devastating as the choices mount up one by one into calamity.
posted by dnash at 7:42 AM on September 25, 2015

SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN'T SEEN IT/READ IT: I was definitely invested intellectually...The situation presents some strong "Don't do that! Just start descending!" moments (the Hall and Doug Hansen one before the summit being the biggest). But take for instance the moment that Hansen falls off the narrow passage on the way back down...When watching I couldn't remember from the book whether he survived or not, and in the movie when he stands up, starts to follow Hall and then just tumbles off the side, my reaction was more "Ah, I guess he didn't make it" than "Oh no! OH NO!" like I think it could have been. And honestly I don't really know what could have fixed it. (I'm sure seeing actors' faces more clearly would have helped some.)

Oh, and I'd forgotten...I loved the small moment where the other survivors tell Beck Weathers that Doug Hansen hadn't made it down. After Weathers' competitive antagonism with Hansen early on, the look of sadness on Josh Brolin's face through his wounds did get to me.
posted by doctornecessiter at 8:42 AM on September 25, 2015

I am excited to see this film because JOSH BROLIN and also this post is good enough to put on the front page.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:29 PM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just found this:

Krakauer not happy with the movie. His main beef seems to be with a moment where Anatoli comes to his tent to ask him to help, and his character says he can't. Which Krakauer says never happened. I'd have to go dig out the book to check that, but for me the scene was just what the filmmakers are quoted in the article as intending: reinforcing that almost nobody was in a condition to help, not even him. I mean, I can see how since it supposedly himself up there he can be upset that such a dramatic license was taken, but in the context of the movie, even though it's not told strictly from his point of view, he's enough of a presence as a character that the audience could reasonably be wondering "where's Krakauer during this part?"

I think his self-admitted PTSD from it is coloring his reaction to the movie a bit. Because I think it reinforces the very thing he says he dislikes about Everest climbing, that it's drawing people who really shouldn't be there, because the guide companies provide a false sense that safety can be bought.
posted by dnash at 9:46 AM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Caught this a month ago and thought it was great; I was wondering if it would match Touching the Void (2003), and it doesn't quite, but it's still gripping stuff. The scene of Hall on the phone to his wife (Keira Knightley doing a very creditable Kiwi accent) was heartbreaking, and didn't need any additional Hollywood schmaltz at all. UK Mefites might like to know that the director's TV series Trapped, a murder mystery set in his native Iceland, is on iPlayer at the moment, and is well worth a watch.
posted by rory at 11:54 AM on March 11, 2016

OK, so I just watched this last night. I'd read Krakauer's book years ago, and I'd heard that Krakauer hated the movie, but I'd assumed it that he'd hated it based on what I'd seen in the trailer: A historical event presented as a high-intensity, action packed, dangling-over-cravasses thrill-ride. (The trailer, by the way, flips the order of events, making it look like they'd all made it to the top as easily as a summer picnic and then ran in to trouble on the ice fields on the way back.)

It wasn't at all what I was expecting. Aside from the scenes involving Jan, Peach, and Helen in base camp (Emily Watson broke my heart here), most of the scenes were pretty cold and detached, and I think that was done for contrast. On the mountain, the camera didn't often linger. Conversations are brief. The deaths are not necessarily heroic. And the more I think about that, the more I think that's the point: The mountain doesn't care whether you make it or not.
posted by mochapickle at 2:53 PM on April 4, 2016

Spouse's comment: the most boring movie about Everest, how is that even possible?

I agree as well, but I did actually finish the whole thing. I did get lost down a wormhole of Everest stuff afterwards though, which was waaaay more interesting than the movie.
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:02 PM on February 3, 2017

For some reason I have been OBSESSED with Everest for the past few months and I just found this on On Demand. Being pre-primed for more info and scenes of climbing Everest, I really liked it!

I thought the first act was pretty rote, but it did a decent job of setting the personalities, an OK job of connecting the relationships, and a nice overview of the stages of getting to Base Camp.

After this, it's pretty much everything I want in a movie like this. I thought there was good pacing between the high camps and portraying the relative difficulties, and there was not a lot of foreshadowing beyond the Chekhov's Fetus and the walk past an idly frozen corpse. I made sure not to look up who died and who didn't, though I did glimpse something about Doug, as happens when you're dancing at the edge of Wikipedia and movies. Still good! I'd like to watch the "Into Thin Air" TV movie now, if not rewatching other legit mountaineering movies like "Cliffhanger" (yes) and "The Eiger Sanction" (which admittedly are both standard action movies, but with cred).

The mountain doesn't care whether you make it or not.

There's a good Anatoli line early on about how the mountain gets the last word. Seems common sense in the movie, but by the end it feels like an opening bracket ([).

I did not think Krakauer came out looking good from this. I don't know the aftermath (yet) or much about the controversies and battling narratives (I think there's like 8-10 survivors who each wrote books), but as depicted here he was either the most attentive and responsible, or a huge weasel. I lean toward the latter. His reason for jumping the line at the summit, "I can't help, I'm snowblind!" all seemed selfish, and possibly lies. I do think he jumped the line mostly because he wanted clean pictures, to get a move-on back down, and other journalistic considerations, but even though he wasn't privy to the approaching storm he seemed indifferent to any effects of what he wanted to do.

Just because it was mentioned, I though this portrayed a set of hopeless events much better than Perfect Storm did. I don't even really think the movies are comparable. Emily Mortimer was excellent as always, and the guy who played Mike Trueman back at HQ made the third act so great. I agree the deaths were not played up at all, and I almost chuckled when Doug just blooped over. I'm under the impression that that (and Harold's) fall is pretty accurate as far as only taking a moment. They could have spent a little more effort laying out the circumstances of both the missing ropes up high, and the missing oxygen that was supposed to be stashed.

All in all, as good as I wanted it to be, and better than I thought it would be.
posted by rhizome at 3:57 PM on August 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

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