Based on a true story, Everest follows the 1996 Mount Everest disaster when 8 people were caught in a blizzard whilst attempting to reach the summit. The beginning of the film sets us up for the disaster as we are introduced to the characters who will be climbing and see them training along the bottom of Everest in order to go for the summit on the 10th May ’96. Leading the expeditions was Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) of the Adventure Consultants and Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) of the Mountain Madness. Previously these two groups were in competition towards gaining clients and success stories but during the course of the training it becomes clear that there are too many other expeditions all trying to summit Everest at the same time. Rob and Scott therefore agree to team up in order for the best possible outcome. On the day of the 10th all seems clear, but during their climb a violent storm hits the mountain, engulfing the adventurers in one of the fiercest blizzards ever encountered by man. The teams are forced to endure blistering winds and freezing temperatures and when they find out they have no spare oxygen it becomes a race against time to get to safety.
Visually this film is stunning, the special effects used throughout really makes you believe that you are also scaling the dizzying heights of Everest, and when that storm hits, you feel right there with them too. I didn’t see the film in 3D but I can imagine it’s all the more powerful if you do. There are moments when characters slip near the edge, and the way the camera is placed you can clearly see the drop beneath them, ensuring that your heart is in your mouth for a good portion of the film! Twice I had to hold my holds against my face as I watched in shock at the events unfolding, and one of those times knowing what was about to happen but hoping I was wrong.
Jason Clarke is superb as Rob Hall the leader of the Adventure Consultants – and main character of the film – he brings out the character as someone who really cares about all his clients and their dreams of climbing Everest. So much so that he even gives one of the men a discount as it is his third and final attempt at reaching the top. During the climb Rob is the one that pays attention to each climber and their needs and when the storm hits it is Rob that stays behind the rest in order to help one man who has run very low on oxygen and is struggling to move himself.
As well as watching the group climb we are given snippets of the friends and family waiting at home and at base camp (at the bottom of the mountain). Rob Hall’s wife Jan (Keira Knightley) is heavily pregnant and willing her husband home for the birth. It is Keira’s portrayal of Jan as she learns what is happening that brings out the real emotion, I can guarantee that you will be crying when Jan and Rob manage a quick phone conversation (through the help of a walkie talkie and a satellite phone at base camp) whilst the storm rages around a snow covered Rob. There is also high emotion from Emily Watson who runs the base camp for Adventure Consultants, when it becomes clear the climbers are in danger she desperately tries to get help to them but with the storm hitting them too their radios lose frequencies and she must sit and wait to hear from those still alive on the mountain.
Everest is a film that will stay in your mind for days afterwards, the fact that it is based on real life makes the storyline all the more emotional and it really makes you think about the 8 people who lost their lives that day and the friends and family they left behind. There is a very poignant ending as pictures of the real people who lost their lives flash up on screen along with a few words about those who did survive.
Overall Everest is a superb film. I thoroughly enjoyed it even though I was sobbing by the end! Every character is brilliantly acted and all bring something towards the film. The beginning is a little slow as they gear up for the climb but once they get going and the disaster strikes, you will be on the edge of your seat for the duration. A definite must see, if only as a way of remembering that the environment is something even we can’t control.