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Everest feature

Review: Everest

Ros Hull

A commercial climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snow storm. imdb

 The thing about reviewing movies is that there are so many factors that affect the cinema experience. Some have little to do with the actual film. Was it a good day at work? Could I get a car park? Do I have a good seat? Is the popcorn too salty?

Then there are the variables that relate directly to the film.

Why does it have to be 3D? Why do the English actresses have Kiwi accents but the Australian actors are clearly Aussie? (They are all playing New Zealanders) Do I really care about climbers who are either trying to make money out of what should be an awe inspiring, unattainable natural wonder, or are so rich they believe that throwing more money at the problem will solve everything?

As you may guess, I felt my attitude to this story was a little clouded, so I sought the opinion of others, less judgmental than I, before giving a verdict. My expert panel (husband and daughter) both loved it. Jess white knuckled her way through the whole film and Steve thought it was excellent.

I thought the cinematography of the natural world was breathtaking, The mountain was the absolute star for me, with the sound design (and even the dreaded 3D) bringing Everest right into the cinema with us. I was also impressed with the attempt at fairness in the telling of the story. Having hit Wikipedia as soon as I got home I have discovered that just about everyone who survived has written their version of events, so creating an unbiased account was impressive.

However, this also gave the film a lack of focus. For example, there is a solo female climber (she seemed to be a journalist, I think) with her guide, who pops up a couple of times. It was not made clear in the film that the Sherpa (whose time was taken up with pretty much bodily dragging her up the mountain) is the one hope that stranded climbers might have had because of his great skill and endurance – but he was fully occupied.

At the risk of sounding like a whiny girl, I also have to say that I do not understand why marquee names like Robyn Wright and Keira Knightly were needed for their roles. They both do well with their brief screen time but felt a bit wasted to me. On the same subject – with the attempt at a rounded story of the group I wonder why more was not made of the fate of Yasuko Namba?

Still, Jason Clarke, who seems to grow with every role he takes, is excellent as Rob Hall, the Kiwi who started the first commercial climbs of Everest. His last conversation with his wife is very, very moving.

I lived through the long news cycle of this disaster and the following lack of anything at all changing in Nepal. When I googled ‘climbing Everest’ the first four hits were for adventure trekking companies who can take you there. 16 climbers died on Everest in 2014 but it barely made the news because they were almost all Sherpas. Another 21 died this year (mainly due to avalanches associated with the Nepalese earthquake). More will die next year, yet people with enough money will continue to use it to create a pedestrian highway to the roof of the world.

Whilst I understand the need to do things that challenge us, the little communist inside me wonders if they could spend their money more productively?

 

Roslyn saw this film as a guest of Dendy Canberra.

Ros Hull

Ros saw Star Wars and immediately wanted to fly the Millenium Falcon. Unable to do that she became a Jill-of-all-trades as her army husband whirled her around the world – and back to Canberra 10 years ago. She has worked in public programs and museum education ever since. She gained an MA in writing whilst getting two daughters through high school - both are now at university and undeniably fabulous (according to her). She can worry as an Olympic sport so she sees lots of movies instead. More about the Author

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