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Film / Everest (2015)

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"Human beings simply aren't built to function at the cruising altitude of a 747. Our bodies will be literally dying. Everest is another beast altogether."
Rob Hall

Everest is a 2015 film, directed by Baltasar Kormákur and starring Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Emily Watson, Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, and Jake Gyllenhaal, which dramatizes the events of the 1996 climbing season on the eponymous mountain.

As the spring season gets underway, a number of expeditions make their way to the base of Mount Everest to make attempts on the summit, most notably Rob Hall's Adventure Consultants and Scott Fischer's Mountain Madness teams. Over the next few weeks, the teams acclimatize to the conditions and each other and work their ways up to the peak. Among the expedition's clients this year are Beck Weathers, Doug Hansen, who hoping to be the first mailman on the mountain, and Yasuko Namba who has climbed six of the Seven Summits, with only Everest itself remaining.

On May 10, the teams finally reach the top of Everest, but the most dangerous part remains. As they descend, a large blizzard suddenly blows in, slamming into the side of the mountain, and trapping several climbers up there. Now with the teams scattered and help unable to reach them, the lost climbers must find a way to survive long enough for rescue.

Not to be confused with the 1998 film of the same name which is about the same events.

Tropes found on the mountain:

  • A Crack in the Ice: At one point the party has to cross a ice crevasse by walking over a ladder.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Scott Fischer was blond in real life and played by the brunet Jake Gyllenhaal.
  • And Mission Control Rejoiced: After they announce they've made it to the summit there's cheering back at base camp. Proves to be premature as the blizzard moves in not long after.
  • Arduous Descent to Terra Firma: After Scaling the Summit, the climbers attempt to descend the mountain, but as they do so the blizzard makes the way back far more dangerous. Many characters end up dying due to the harsh conditions, and those who don't have to resist until they're ultimately rescued. This movie is based on the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, so the misfortune is bound to be displayed.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • Jon Krakauer, who wrote the most well-known memoir on the subject, blasted the film for portraying him as having snow-blindness that stopped him from helping find the other climbers. Given that the film portrays Boukreev heroically while Krakauer's memoir was heavily critical of him, he could be viewing it as a Take That! siding with Boukreev's account instead of his own; however, this criticism should be taken with a grain of salt, as he advises others to read his book rather than watch the movie, which has detractors stating that he's just upset that he doesn't have a monopoly of the disaster's narrative.
    • Sandy Pittman insists that Lopsang started towing her against her will, rather than the film's implication (and numerous accounts) that she made him tow her so that she could get to the summit, a decision that would prove fatal for some when Lopsang failed to prepare ropes in order to tow her along.
    • Beck is introduced wearing a Dole/Kemp '96 T-shirt. The climb takes place in April and Dole wouldn't become the nominee until August.
    • The deaths of Doug Hansen and Andy Harris are depicted onscreen, with Hanson cutting himself off from his guide rope in an oxygen-deprived stupor and Harris suffering a bout of paradoxical undressing and sliding to his death. In real life, the circumstances of both men's deaths are not precisely known, as their bodies were never found, and the last person to see them alive, Rob Hall, awoke the next morning to find that they had already disappeared.
    • Otherwise averted with most other areas of the film. It includes as many of the real life parties as possible and presents the disaster as it happened for the most part - choosing only to focus on the southeast route.
    • The director addresses this in the commentary, talking about sorting through the various accounts of the event and trying to piece together what actually happened. Eventually he got ahold of audio recordings from that day which helped paint a much clearer picture.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Averted. When Beck asks Ang Dorje if he can speak English, Ang Dorje replies with "Probably better than you" to much laughter at Beck's expense. Played somewhat straight with Yasuko.
  • Badass Native: The Sherpa people who work on Mount Everest. Also Col. Madan K.C., the helicopter pilot who rescues Beck.
  • Based on a True Story: The 1996 Everest disaster, to be precise.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: As the team ascends, Helen hopes they don't wind up with another year of no clients at the top, Adventure Consultants having failed to get any clients to the summit in 1995 due to bad conditions. Well, they get to the top, but two of them, Doug and Yasuko, don't come back.
  • Belly-Scraping Flight: Beck's chopper flight off the mountain has them brushing quite a few snow drifts with their skids, as the flight is more a controlled fall until they get to air thick enough for it to actually fly in.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Subverted. A dramatic rescue for Rob is launched, but the winds prove too strong for a rescue to be possible and the team has to turn back, which Helen knows is a death sentence.
    • Played straight with the rescue of Beck via helicopter.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Beck stumbles back alive against all odds, but Rob, Andy, Doug, Scott, and Yasuko are all dead. If not for Beck managing to survive, it would have been a straight Downer Ending. And even so, Beck is mutilated by frostbite, losing his hands and nose.
  • Boring Return Journey: Subverted. The journey up has its hardships but the return journey is where the climbers start dying in a storm.
  • Braving the Blizzard: A number of mountain climbers get stuck on Mt. Everest after a blizzard hits the mountain. They are forced to press through it to make it back to the (relative) safety of camp. Special mention to Anatoli Boukreev, who ventures back out into the storm to track down stragglers.
  • Casting Gag: Everest is not the first film about a disaster that occurred in the 1990s to have John Hawkes portraying one of the victims. He plays Doug Hansen in this film and had previously played Michael "Bugsy" Moran in The Perfect Storm.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Of the myriad books written about the tragedy. There were other deaths previous to the storm that the movie omits, as well as a slew of other problems that combined to form an absolute mess on the day. The film also focuses only on the southeast route, omitting the deaths of three climbers from an Indian expedition who perished in the storm while on the northeast route.
  • Death World: Rob explains to his clients that once they climb above 8000 metres on Everest, they will be in the "Death Zone", and their body will begin to shut down. The climbers are constantly reminded during their summit attempt that they must keep moving or risk death.
  • Determinator:
    • After being forced to turn back from the summit in his previous attempt, Doug Hansen is resolved to make it to the summit of Everest this time. He does make it to the summit, but this ultimately costs him his life when he becomes too ill to descend.
    • After being left for dead overnight on the mountain, Beck, severely frostbitten and practically blind, wakes up and walks down the mountain to camp IV, somehow avoiding any hazards along the way.
  • Disappeared Dad: Rob dies two months before the birth of his daughter Sarah.
  • Disney Villain Death: Andy and Doug die this way, falling off of a narrow cliffside path. Inverted as, of course, neither are villains.
  • Dwindling Party: The climbing groups start to suffer from this after they summit and the blizzard moves in. The first to go is Doug, who falls off a cliff suffering from oxygen deprivation, Andy rolls off a cliff as he starts tearing his clothes off, and Rob, Scott, Beck and Yasuko get caught in the blizzard as the rest make it back to Camp IV. Beck gets better.
  • Emergency Cargo Dump: When a medivac chopper is called in to get Beck off the mountain (well above where helicopters are supposed to fly due to the thinness of the air) and to a hospital, they throw out everything they can get away with, including leaving the copilot behind, to make themselves as light as they can.
  • Ethnic Menial Labor: The Sherpa people of Nepal do the heavy lifting of carting supplies up and down Everest for the various expeditions as well as the dangerous job of fixing ropes and guiding clients up the mountain.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Those familiar with the actual 1996 disaster will know that Rob, Scott, Doug, Andy and Yasuko will not survive the descent.
  • Hair-Trigger Avalanche: The area known as the Khumbu Icefall, where tons of shifting ice can break off and come crashing down at a moment's notice.
  • Historical Beauty Upgrade: The real Beck Weathers jokingly mused in an interview that he wasn't as handsome as Josh Brolin.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Base Camp arranges to send fresh oxygen up to Rob, who is stranded near the summit. Unfortunately his rescuers are forced to turn back before they can reach him when the weather takes a bad turn.
    • Hall tries to get Hansen to turn back to camp when the latter doesn't seem able to make the ascent, which would save his life, but Hansen is determined to go ahead. (Note that in real life, it was Hansen that wanted to turn back, but Hall's pep talk stopped him from turning back)
  • Husky Russkie: Anatoli Boukreev, the Russian member of Scott Fischer's Mountain Madness team. In addition to being very tall, he ascended the mountain without oxygen (he felt it gave a false sense of security), and when the blizzard comes up, he makes several treks back up to bring stragglers back to the camp.
  • Improbable Piloting Skills: Fly a chopper well up above where it's supposed to fly for a rescue then basically drop it off a cliff until it reaches air thick enough to maintain flight, dodging looming rock and ice formations on the way down? It has to be done.
  • Ironic Echo: During the hike to base camp, Beck, when asked how he's doing says, "Ah, you know, fair to middlin'." Later, lying down at camp after being left outside and nearly frozen to death, he's asked the same thing and gives the same answer.
  • Jerkass: The movie has No Antagonist besides the weather but Ian Woodall, the leader of the South African team, comes pretty close, though he doesn't have much screen time. In real life, he was actually more of a Jerkass and completely disregarded the need for the teams to stagger summit attempts in order to avoid bottlenecking, one of the main problems that occurred on the fateful day.
  • Left for Dead: Beck and Yasuko are abandoned during the blizzard, as neither can stand and it's impossible to drag them along. The former manages to make it back; the latter, unfortunately, not. (This is also word-for-word the title for his memoir on the experience)
  • Mama Bear: Peach Weathers got her friends to call anyone they could think of to get a helicopter to fly Beck off the mountain. Something she did in real life too.
  • Manly Tears: Beck upon finding out they'd lost Doug.
  • Naked Nutter: It's repeatedly stated how the low-oxygen environment affects the mind, sometimes resulting in people spontaneously taking their clothes off despite the cold (known as paradoxical undressing).
  • Nice Guy: As was his real-life temperament, Doug is the sweetest of the Adventure Consultants group, so much so that, despite his age, he borders on being The Cutie of the group. Just look at how excited he is to take a picture for his elementary school supporters back home! Which makes his eventual decline and death even more heartbreaking.
  • Never Found the Body: The bodies of Doug and Andy have never been found. Yasuko's was brought down, while Rob and Scott's were left on Everest.
  • No Antagonist: Lampshaded by Boukreev, who states that there's no time for competition among humans when the real competition is against the mountain.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Beck somehow survives spending an entire night out in the middle of a blizzard on Everest and despite severe frostbite in his feet is able to make his way back to camp 4. That isn't Hollywood nonsense by the way, that really happened. It was as unexplainable in real life as it was in the film.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Rob refuses to leave Doug after they get stuck without oxygen on the side of the mountain. It winds up costing both of them their lives.
  • Oh, Crap!: As the blizzard moves in we hear, "oh, no."
  • Perspective Flip: From the IMAX film, which was from the point of view of Ed Viesturs team, who stayed at camp that day and missed the storm, thought they did participate in rescue efforts. This one concentrates on the Adventure Consultants expedition, which got caught in the storm.
  • Polar Madness: A combination of hypothermia and oxygen deprivation plays merry hell with the minds of the climbers: people begin to undress in freezing cold because they're experiencing delusions of warmth, obliviously walk off cliffs, and in once case, perceive a perfectly functional set of backup oxygen tanks as empty.
  • Punchclock Hero:
    • Colonel Madan K.C., the rescue helicopter pilot, who flew way above the operational altitude to retrieve the injured Beck, and then, since it was it impossible to properly lift off in the rarefied air, dropped his helicopter off the cliff until it could catch on the thicker air below. All in a day's work.
    • All the more awesome In Real Life in that he did it twice. Due to Compressed Adaptation, the filmmakers omitted "Makalu" Gau, leader of the Taiwanese expedition, who was in many ways worse off than Beck. It was agreed that he should be the first to be taken off the glacier by chopper, which duly happened. The party was astonished when, a few minutes later, Colonel Madan risked his life again getting his helicopter to the top of the Icefall to rescue Beck.
  • Retirony: Yasuko dies after completing her quest to reach all of the Seven Summits.
  • Sanity Slippage: The extreme cold and oxygen deprivation wrecks not only the bodies of climbers, but the minds as well. People begin to undress in freezing cold because they suddenly start feeling hot. They walk off the cliffs without realising it. And no, those back up oxygen tanks were not empty, they were not sabotaged or neglected - the guy who found them was just so utterly befuddled by that point he saw them as empty. And the others, also mentally compromised, didn't double-check.
  • Scaling the Summit: The reason they have each come to Everest. Rob's there to make sure they get up and down safely.
  • Scenery Gorn: It is a Death World where the altitudes are marked with frozen corpses.
  • Scenery Porn: The film is full of magnificent mountain shots.
  • Snow Means Death: Naturally, when the climbers die, we see frozen bodies covered in snow. Subverted with Beck who spends the night passed out in a blizzard but gets an Unexplained Recovery.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Rob's wife Jan gives birth to their daughter Sarah a few months after his death on Everest.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Yasuko, as in real life, is the only female climber of the Adventure Consultants summit attempt. She's also the only woman to die that day.
  • Team Mom: Helen, for the Adventure Consultants climbing attempt.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Comes up in a number of ways but the most prominent perhaps is when Doug insists on reaching the summit, despite being more than an hour after the 2:00 turnaround time. Rob, against his better judgement, allows it. As a result, when the storm rolls in, the two of them are much higher on the summit than everyone was expecting and no one can get to them with fresh O2 bottles.
  • Trailers Always Lie: For those unfamiliar with the disaster, some trailers focus a lot on Rob getting down the mountain and not leaving Andy or Doug. In the movie, though, he barely makes in any farther from where he is when the storm starts, and Doug and Andy die fairly quickly.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Beck spends the night passed out in a blizzard with no gloves or face mask but then just gets up in the morning and wanders back to camp. Subverted in that he still had very real injuries that made it seem almost a fact to other climbers that he was going to die anyway... But he didn't!