What goes up doesn’t necessarily come down in this week’s big DVD release. We’re looking at Everest, a disaster movie based on real-life events which takes us from the top of the world to the depths of human tragedy.
Until Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay finally reached the peak in 1953 Mount Everest haunted the dreams of mountaineers throughout the world.
After forty years the romance of the mighty pinnacle was giving way to the reality of commercialism.
By the mid 1990s, Everest had become the site of a booming adventure tourism trade which saw rich tourists paying enormous amounts of money to be shepherded up the mountain. The movie takes us to 1996, a year which became infamous in the mountain’s history.
Focussing on the expedition run by Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) the film looks at the events leading up to what was at the time the deadliest season that climbers had faced on the mountain.
Flitting between the stories of around half a dozen of those involved we are given a look into the motivations for these climbers, and the fate which befell them.
In terms of spectacle, the director and his CGI crew have done a remarkable job. The stark beauty of the mountains and bleak reality of trying to operate in a hostile environment which rejects life is captured with gusto.
The characterization of the people involved in the story isn’t handled as well. With so many people involved, and so much going on, little depth is afforded to the adventure tourists taking on the mountain – and the Sherpa guides and relatives left at home are even less well-defined.
Still, the mountain is the star of the show and the tragedy that unfolded on its rocky slopes remains a compelling story.
As the narrative shifts from the slightly understated scene-setting of the first half to the desperate fight for survival in the second, director Baltasar Kormakur successfully ups the tension to create a devastating finale which is well worth watching.