Everest (2015, Balthasar Kormakor)

1996 saw one of the most devastating tragedies to happen during an expedition up Mount Everest. Blasted by a horrendous blizzard, ill equipped and overly packed, the mountain claimed the lives of eight people and it’s into this tragic story of human sacrifice that Balthasar Kormakor transports his audience. Displayed like a docu-drama, this true life account is emotionally harrowing and presented to at such a high quality, that audience attachment, not only accounts to the on screen personas but also those real life victims of nature’s wrath.

Basing the account of the eventful two days through the eyes of acclaimed mountaineer Rob Hall, portrayed here with such an engrossing characteristic by Jason Clarke (carrying the film extremely well), ‘Everest’ presents the facts in an engaging and easy to understand manner, with the characters relaying audience exposition through the well written dialogue. A pioneer in hand holding tours up the mountain, Hall competes with multiple companies in getting tourists upon the summit. Leading an expedition which includes Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), Brett Weathers (Josh Brolin) and rival mountaineer Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal), Hall begins to tackle the world’s tallest summit. Hitting the aforementioned issues during the hike, the expedition group soon faces real human tests of strength in surviving the harsh reality that they find themselves caught within.

Although Jason Clarke carries the audience’s attachment as the film’s main character, ‘Everest’ is first and  full most an ensemble piece with its cast giving great character performances – with no desire to inflate personal egos. Through controlling this aspect of the film, Kormakor is able to easily give a rewarding return to the films dark premise and uncomfortable nature. With no true antagonist in its plot, ‘Everest’ really does present only the human struggles of its principle characters. This comes with an issue of holding an overly serious tone, but through handling the subject in the manner that’s informative the films difficulty works as a complete positive in retrospect.

With a smaller budget than films of a similar ilk – such as ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ – ‘Everest’ relies highly upon practical effects and close up character profiles. By bringing the film into reality without the need for overly CGI moments, Kormakor manages to create a high level of realism throughout his documented tale of human versus nature depiction.

Through the decision to present this film as documentary/drama hybrid, Kormakor is able to showcase a dramatic account in a manner different to other Hollywood disaster pictures. Audiences will feel a part of the onscreen devastation, become more engrossed with what’s being exploited and feel true emotional attachment to the many characters that feature. With moments of high production standards throughout, ‘Everest’ is comparable with other disaster productions – just chosen to highlight the story in a different filmic method. 

Whether the documentary sequences will cater to the usual audience demographics is debatable, however Kormakor has created an interest and highly engrossing human driven personal piece.

Plot – 4

Acting- 4

Direction – 4

Effects- 4

Retrospect – 3

Overall – 4