Tell It Tuesday: Everest Edition

Posted by on Oct 27, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Tell It Tuesday: Everest Edition







I just returned from my comfy local theatre which features all sorts of plush accouterments like reclining seats and iced chai, but instead of feeling relaxed and entertained, I’m shivering and spent. Thanks a lot, Everest. I thought I was prepared, having read Jon Krakauer’s excellent book, Into Thin Air, which details the story, but the filmmakers took the experience to another plain of existence.

For those of you not familiar, Everest is based on a tragic climb of that mountain back in 1996, during which, due to bad weather, poor communication and supply, and a glut of climbers, several people died. Now, I’m not the personality type who gets extreme stuff like mountain climbing or white water rafting or base jumping. My adrenaline rushes just fine when someone cuts me off in traffic or hear a siren coming up behind me as I survive in my dangerous habitat of the Midwestern suburbs. I don’t go out of my way to test myself against nature because I have a very realistic notion of my place in it: it will win, every time. I see enough ice, snow, and sleet every winter right where I live, I have no desire to spend thousands of dollars to travel across the world to have my nostrils freeze shut. So the motivation of the folks in Everest wasn’t interesting to me, but the story of their struggle and the personality of the mountain itself was lure enough.



The actors did a great job with their roles and really shone despite the wild sets and amazing scenery which are normally my catnip. Lots of stars in roles of all sizes, which makes me think well of the motivations of the whole production. Of special note was Jake Gyllenhaal, who popped up unexpectedly and stole every scene he was in with his laid-back, increasingly debilitated characterization of Scott Fischer. And that’s a key to watching Everest, and one hammered home in Into Thin Air, these climbers, no matter their experience level, all suffer terribly on their way to the top, and their physical abilities and reasoning skills take a nosedive when the oxygen gets scarce. It’s a nice antidote to films where the star is a martial arts expert, multilingual, international relations paragon, information tech guru who also happens to be perfectly proportioned and only twenty-five years old.

The real star was Sagar-Matha, what Nepalis call Everest, and the filmmakers put me right there where I could feel the cold, hear the hiss of freezing rain, and curl my toes in my boots in an effort not to lose them to frostbite. The cinematography was gorgeous, with just the right mix of awesome vistas, forbidding clouds, and the messy environs of human encampments. All the herculean efforts of humans in the movie, and there were many shining examples, were as nothing when compared to the implacable mountain shouldering her ice and conjuring her storms.

I went to the theatre hoping for a couple of hours of distraction, but ended up enthralled. It’s a great movie, based on a great book, and it gives me hope for future adaptations of some of my favorite works.

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