♪Oh baby there ain’t no mountain high enough-♪
Everest is a VERY interesting movie that sticks true to the facts of the event it’s based on, the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. I’ve been reading up on the real thing (this movie is good enough that it makes you want to research the story afterwards), and I was shocked to find out virtually everything in this movie is accurate to the real accounts; virtually nothing is Hollywood-ized for the sake of a more dramatic movie. If anything, the movie actually underplayed some of the human vs. human conflict between Rob Hall’s expedition and Scott Fischer’s. Isn’t that nuts?
That’s really where a lot of my love from this movie stems. It is grass-roots-level accurate. It doesn’t follow the Hollywood cookie cutter mold of the human spirit always triumphing, it follows the real life events of how one mountain destroyed a group of overzealous climbers. SPOILER: Every death in the movie is as accurate to the real accounts as possible. This includes BIGGER SPOILER the hypothesized cause of Doug Hansen’s death via falling and the far more detailed and educated hypothesis regarding the death by HAPE of Scott Fischer.
To this movie’s massive credit: firstly, the soundtrack is great. It’s got the Nepal-style music found in Far Cry 4, also based in a region neighboring Everest, so the feeling of the local culture is definitely present. Secondly, the whole ordeal is handled super maturely. It can be grizzly, it can be upsetting. But at the end of the day, Hollywood doesn’t dig its claws into the story; rather, it lets the true events unfold onscreen. If there’s a single moment of this movie I’ll remember for the rest of my life, it’s a bit involving a photo at the very end that reflects a bit from early in the first act of the movie. It made the whole thing come full circle and was downright haunting (I’ll refrain from putting the spoiler-y details here regarding that scene, as you’ll know it when you come to it, when you go to see this movie in a theatre [which you really should]).
Unfortunately, while this was the single movie in my life I actually wanted to go see in IMAX, the cards aligned so that it was either a convenient 2D (or 3D but even for this movie 3D is the stupidest gimmick ever) showing or not at all. Still, if you have the opportunity to get that bigger-than-big screen experience, I totally recommend you do it. Just from the 2D viewing, I can imagine how intense the movie would be on an IMAX screen
My only real gripe with the movie is that the pacing in the final quarter of the movie is wacky. Everything up until that point is masterfully done, but once the storm hits the director kind of loses his grip on an otherwise cohesive, flowing story. But the amazing thing is, the movie’s good enough that you’re not even there for the storm. Well, I mean, maybe you were like me and decided to check out the movie BECAUSE of the storm in the trailer, but once you’re actually in the theatre you totally forget there’s a storm on the horizon until it actually happens. And that’s simply because the characters and writing are that good. You just enjoy the basic struggle of watching a band of people trying to reach the top of Everest for the first three quarters of the movie. One quote from Gyllenhaal’s character sticks with me hours later because of how great (and comic relief-y) it is: “It’s not the altitude, it’s the attitude.”. Bahahaha. Not to mention that the writers SPOILERRRRRRR really focus their efforts on humanizing the people who are destined to die. This means the sweet old Doug who just wants to fulfill a life dream that he failed on the first time around and whose funding for this trip comes from a fundraising mission by a group of school children is the one who must die. This means Yasuko Namba, the oldest woman to attempt to climb Everest and complete the final of the seven deadly ascents, won’t reach the bottom to tell of her success. This means Rob Hall, the group leader expecting a daughter two months down the line, won’t ever be able to see her smile. It’s gut-wrenching, simply because you know it was REAL.
So please, go pay for a ticket and see Everest in theatres. Support awareness of an emotional true story done complete justice by Hollywood. Show that we want to recognize the biggest heroes of humanity on the big screen through accurate depictions of their struggles rather than embellished versions.