Everest

by Sherif
Awad
This week,
the screening of the new film Everest brought many memories about
climbing films like the classic adventure The Eiger Sanction (1995) starring
Clint Eastwood, Cliffhanger (1993) starring Sylvester Stallone and Vertical
Limit
(2000) starring Chris O’Donnell. In these action films, the plot
revolved around a lone hero facing a gang of criminals across the mountains
that served as an unconventional setting for stunts, chases and claustrophobic
landscapes. In Everest, there no villains or lone heroes but real-life
characters who fell victim to their own obsessions.
Presented
at the opening of Venice festival two weeks ago, the film tries to follow the
autobiographical book by journalist and mountaineer Jon Krakauer who criticises
this type of luxurious yet dangerous kind of tourism that put the lives of
climbers in the most inappropriate places. 
Everest opens on Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), the leader of New
Zealand-based Adventure Consultants, and Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal), the highly
experienced team leader of the Seattle-based Mountain Madness, who led their consecutive
teams toward the highest summit of Everest. Kormakur shows us how the two teams
had spent two months working on this task with their groups to overcome the
lack of oxygen and the dangerous altitudes. However, when three of Hall’s
climbers reached the summit that day, an unexpectedly violent storm blew
without warning. As Hall tried in vain to assist the exhausted climber Doug
Hansen (John Hawkes), he became unable to make the descent himself. On the
other side, the high winds crippled the efforts of other exhausted rescuers,
who were unable to find their way in the darkness. Help returned a few hours
later.  Very late in the night, Boukreev
rescued the three remaining Mountain Madness clients from the storm.  He grimly concluded that Hall’s clients,
Weathers and Yasuko Namba, a Japanese climber who made her seventh out of the
Seven Summits, were already too near death—nearly frozen and unable to crawl or
speak. Also in the region at this time was Guy Cotter, another Adventure
Consultants guide, who was running an expedition on the adjacent Mount
Pumori.  Cotter had been in radio contact
with Hall throughout the summit day, and when the storm hit, he quickly
recognized the dire, life-threatening situation. Cotter attempted in vain to
arrange for Hall’s rescue, but two Sherpas climbing up toward Hall were
exhausted and unable to continue. 
Everest is
directed by Baltasar Kormakur who is an Icelandic director with US credits
including Contraband and 2 Guns, two action films in which Mark
Wahlberg co-starred. In Everest, the challenge for Kormakur was to bring an
entertaining freshness to a true story with already known melodramatic climaxes
was the push the limit in the visual experience for the viewers watching his
film at regular or IMAX cinemas. However, aforementioned films of the 1970s, 1990s
and the new century had more exciting visuals due to the capabilities of both
their directors and cinematographers before the era of extentive digital
post-production. Despite some audio-visual shocks, the film does not quite
deliver the edge-of-your-seat thrills necessary in such genre. After the film
ended, I felt like watching a BBC or National Geographic Documentary with some
re-enactment scenes. 

Sherif M. Awad
Sherif M. Awad
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