Firstly, don’t bother to go and watch Everest for Jake Gyllenhaal alone – it’s not a mistake I made, but I’m sure plenty others will. If you’re going to watch this film, do so in order to understand the joy and despair that underpins people’s motivations for scaling Mount Everest and not purely for the Hollywood stars that play the characters…

I don’t mean to sound like a stick in the mud, but it does annoy me that a lot of the promotion of this film seemed to be based around Gyllenhaal’s presence and NOT for the true human tales of courage and defeat that form the basis of the story. And Gyllenhaal isn’t even in it that much anyway (sorry to burst your bubble Gyllenhaal fans).

Anyway, that aside, this film left me with a lump in my throat on more than one occasion. Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)) gave a fantastic performance as Rob Hall and painted a picture of an experienced mountaineer who was fully aware of the great risk he took every time he climbed, which is why the safety of those who paid top money to take part in the expedition remained at the forefront of his mind. This is why it is so tragic that a moment of weakness led to him making a decision that cost him his life. I read that the New Zealander survived another 30 hours in the ‘death zone’ – this could have been enough time for the sherpas to reach him if it wasn’t for the storm. Very sad. But the mountain is not your friend – never has been, and never will.

This is as much a mental battle as it is a physical one. Everest leaves an imprint on your thoughts which is hard to shake off.  One slip and it’s game over. Chilling and unsettling. **** (4 out of 5 stars)

I really felt for Emily Watson‘s character who had a tough job in keeping it all together from base camp. These expeditions aren’t all about the climb itself, there’s also the weeks of preparation and acclimatisation to go through, as well as the organisation and communication from base camp once all the climbers are up the mountain.

And let’s not forget the frostbite…if you read this heartfelt and honest testimony from survivor Beck Weathers you’ll be shocked by the aftermath. Some of the things he experienced in the months following his rescue are horrific and haunt your thoughts. It begs the question: who really wins – man or mountain?

Further reading:

On the mountain of madness

Everest Review

Everest

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