The latest reports that Mount Everest is to be declared off-limits to unprofessional climbers, following increasing numbers of casualties and deaths of those who take on the challenge of climbing the highest summit in the world, make Baltasar Kormákur’s latest film, “Everest”, all the more relevant and engaging. Based on the true story of the 1996 Everest expeditions, the film follows the journey and subsequent survival efforts of two expedition groups as they attempt to ascend the mountain, faced with many obstacles and up against extreme weather conditions.
The camera work and sound on the film really make for a compelling, and at times highly emotive, viewing. Whilst not being loaded with such climactic moments one has come to expect from adventure blockbusters nowadays, “Everest” offers it’s fair share of tense moments – from aerial views of the climbers crossing deep crevasses to the sudden onslaughts of violent storms. The omnipresence of danger is conveyed in every tremble, every foot slip, as the group attempt the perilous ascent. But whilst the mountain may dominate both on film and in the story development, “Everest” remains a remarkably human film. Kormákur aims to tap into the human emotions which both prove to motivate and impede the quest, examining the mental resilience of human beings when pushed to their physical limits and indeed questioning why people would choose to do so.
If at times the film feels slow or lacking in climactic moments, this is rather due to audience expectation; our desire for and anticipation of clichéd explosions, happy endings, bad guys. The film does not conform to such expectation. It looks not to over-dramatize the physical experience – the drama that is inevitably created as we watch the group take on the mountain speaks for itself – but to offer an insight into our own human instincts and emotions. Whilst our empathy and emotions may render us reckless and foolish, they ultimately inspire us to achieve our goals in the first place.