Usually a movie that is based on a true story (or true events) will entice me to watch it, whatever the subject. This movie is about an affluent group of adventure seekers who are left fighting for their lives on a climb to the world’s highest mountain in 1996. Publicity materials also mention co-screenwriter Simon Beaufoy’s Oscar-nominated 127 Hours (2010), based on the real-life story of a hiker who cut off his arm to free himself from a boulder after falling into a canyon. (And, yes, I watched that movie too.)
I am mesmerised by the wide-screen visuals of the mountains. The spectacular views alone are worth the price of the ticket for admission!
In the 40 years since 1953, one in four persons died on their trek to the peak. So, after 1992, amateur teams got together to guide the mountaineers in small groups.
Many reviewers comment that the most interesting part of the movie is the survival portion in the second half. Well, I disagree. I think the first half is even more interesting. To me, the survival portion of the story is mostly harrowing, edge-of-the-seat stuff.
We get to see the Kathmandu train station and what the Indian town was like in 1996. I got an insight into the science and technical stuff behind such an adventure : Acclimatisation (eg “Human beings are just not made to function at an altitude for 727 planes,”) and how much planning and training are needed for such mountaineering feats.
The aerial view of the Kathmandu town, the vast expanse of the Himalayan mountains, the suspension bridges, the Monastry (with Tibetian monks performing rituals), the Climbers’ Memorials, the tons of glaciers with “crevices so deep you can’t see the bottom”, the avalanches, the Camp Balcony and the Hillary Steps all make my eyes go wide and my mouth agape. I would never otherwise experience such beautiful and fantastic sights. Kudos to the entire production team, especially the Visual Effects and Aerial Units!
The London Session Orchestra also did a commendable job in providing excellent musicians for the soundtrack, particularly the pianist, violinst, cellist and percussionist (especially the timpani) to convey, in turn, calm or chaos, the howling winds or storm, the stinging cold or freezing temperature. There are also songs by the likes of Sheryl Crowe when the movie pans to New Zealand (with one character’s expectant wife) or to Dallas, Texas (with another character’s wife and two children).