I love a true story film. Biographical dramas always resonate with me and I find films a lot more tense when you realise that these were real people and real lives that were on the line. As soon as I saw the trailer I knew that Everest was a must-see film for me. I’d really enjoyed Touching the Void and I’m always invested in mountaineering stories. The extreme altitudes, the pressure, lack of air, the split second decisions and the stories of the real people risking their lives for that one ultimate moment of glory. Everest is of course the daddy of them all.
Everest is based on the 1996 Mount Everest Disaster, in which extreme weather caused the deaths of 8 people. The film focusses on two commercial expeditions, one led by Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) and the other led by Scott Fisher (Jake Gyllenhaal).
I think the first thing to say is that the trailer for the film misleading. The trailer, with its loud frightening Inception horns, gives the impression that the majority of the film is this tense, survival drama with close calls, avalanches, falls etc. at every step of the way. That’s not the case. The majority of the film is very subdued. You’re given a lot of time to get to know the characters and there is a lot of them. For some, you’ll meet their families back home and this is no bad thing. But it is not heavy in the tension.
The final 3rd is where you’ll find the action but it comes in fits and burst. It focusses more on the emotion and the heartbreak of the moment as opposed to the action of it. Now I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing but it is misleading. Ultimately these were real lives, of course, and I imagine one of the things that the producers and director wanted was an accurate film but sometimes a little stretching of the truth creates a better film.
Despite being slow it is still a great film. The stellar cast all provide excellent performances, the script is on point and the story is without doubt an incredible tale of heroism, strength, bravery, loss and more, in the most extreme place on earth. It’s great if you have an interest in the story or you like a biographical drama but the casual viewer might sit there a little bored in the first hour.