by Heinrich Domingo
Hiking a frozen, high, and oxygen-deprived mountain is as difficult as successfully pulling off a film detailing a simulated expedition to the Everest. The physical conditions of the place may limit the artistic and technical elements of filmmaking. Baltasar Kormákur’s 2015 masterpiece extends the science and art of film creation and sets a new standard on the visual quality of cine.
Paying tribute to the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, this film captures the heart of not only the mountaineering enthusiasts but also those who continue struggling against all odds. Viewers see in the eight hikers the ambitions to experience the wild, to enjoy life atrocities, and consequently to achieve the sweetest victory.
Before being a drama movie, Everest chooses to be a film that overcame the extremely challenging feat of filming in a harsh mountain setting. Through the technical ability of its production houses, images created a pseudo-feeling of being 7,984 meters above the sea.
Suspended in mid-air are not only the hikers but also the heart of viewers who fear the inevitability of death. As the plot sufficiently laid down the background of each character, the audience became sympathetic with the latter’s struggle, pain, and disappointment. With this, the film left behind a valuable lesson of appreciating life.
One element that helped in the charismatic delivery of the story is the good casting. Jason Clarke (as Rob Hall) and Jake Gyllenhaal (as Scott Fischer) realistically played their roles. Aside from them, other actors and actresses must be applauded for taking an extra mile in physically preparing for the rigorous set condition.
On the other hand, the film being an interpretation of an actual event might come for some as shallow and lacking. Those who have been used watching romanticized plots in suspense and thriller films might wish Everest to be more heart-wrenching, more tragic, and more emotional. For a non-fiction story like this, movie-goers expecting for extreme emotional ups and downs could be disappointed.
This movie played its limitations for its advantage. First, it used the challenging icy mountain as a visual backdrop in its story-telling. As a result, viewers were presented with beautiful aerial shots depicting the seldom shown beauty of the world’s highest mountain. Second, it used the limiting nature of a biographical film to encapsulate the often difficult reality of life. While the plot can only go as far as facts would allow, the narrative successfully caught sympathy from the audience.
Just like how Everest overcame its challenging filming condition, it hopes to overcome the prejudice of the audience against its ‘boring’ story-line. Hopefully, moviegoers would allow the film’s great imagery to speak for itself.