It’s a true story, the one told in Everest. They remind us about it with signposts at the beginning and they will do the same at the end, through the usual photos of the real people.
This happens because it’s a resounding story and its plausibility is part of the fascination and the duty to believe in it is what makes it all extraordinary. And Everest needs the magic of reality, because otherwise it couldn’t stand the rhythm and the pressure of the competitors (big movies and big stars), being just a make-believe story. It was adjusted to large landscapes and digital reconstruction: Baltasar Kormakur’s movie wants to move between insanity and ambition, aspiration, passion and conquer desire. It wants to challenge the morality of the audience (that generally can’t understand the reason why one should risk his own life, but they can be amused by it). The movie always sides with its main characters and their difficult life choices. The adventure that you could legitimately think that would happen, since the themes, has a marginal meaning.
And maybe the best part of the movie is exactly the one in which you can see the digital reconstrucion of the real actors, the way in which tiny men fight against huge mountains, steep sheets, terrible storms and all the other things the human body is not ready to bear. However, in this catastrophic classic, (its nature is inevitably revealed by the way in which every character is presented and characterized in order to be a stereotype), the tragedy seems not to be created by a human mistake, by arrogance or impudence, as we’ve always been used to see, but by the yearning of conquer, that drives everyone to go beyond their own limits. The most difficult choices are motivated by the strongest impulse.
Surprisingly, Everest seems to be so brave not to fill audience with tension and suspence: it wants to show a group of human beings living in a place which repels them, to show bodies pulled towards a long decay in one of the most inhospitable places of the earth. And Kormakur doesn’t back off when he has the chance to laugh at their back through the cinema tools, moving in a brutal and clear way from snow storms and frozen noses to the warm city houses in which barefoot women wait for their beloved ones, covered by huge sweaters. These marginal roles are played by actresses whose names clash with the tiny parts given, such as Keira Knightley and Robin Wright.
So, Everest will never be one of those movies which climb to success (3D presence, that could have helped, has not been used, in any way nor moment, as if it didn’t exist), maybe because Everest doesn’t care of the climbing. The way to reach the top is far less important than understanding what you need to sacrifice to gain the determination to face it. While the movie shows us what you risk, how bad things can go (and this is repeated many times before you can see it), it also prepares us to a journey through the insanity between men who look for something that the seem not to find not even when they reach their goal. A goal that is so worthless that, in such a film, shocks and upsets. At least.
By Gabriele Niola
Translation: Bianca Baroni
In collabration with Badtaste.it