It’s a tradition at the Venice Film Festival that the opening movie is chosen to represent an avantgarde directing style. In recent years this has been the case, including 2013 with Gravity, then-winner of the Academy Award for best director, and Birdman last year, which in addition to the very same Oscar also swept the one for best picture.
Shot in the magnificent mountains of Italy and Nepal – before being refined between Cinecittà and Pinewood studios – Everest, however, is not as groundbreaking as its predecessors.
This film is not simply one of the most spectacular British-produced movies of the current decade, it’s also an attempt to honour the victims of the disastrous 1996 expedition that took the lives of eight.
Watching these huge mountains in 3D is breathtaking, but Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur opted for a classic 90s disaster movie approach – at least to tell the first part of the story. The viewer is introduced to team leaders Rob (Jason Clarke) and Scott (Jake Gyllenhaal), who accompany several clients (Josh Brolin, Michael Kelly and John Hawkes) willing to pay $65,000 to get to the top of the mountain. Everything seems well and good, until Dr Mackenzie (Elizabeth Debicki) explains the risks involved in climbing as high as the “death zone” (above 8,000m).
Even the score is in perfect harmony with the 90s school: pompous-but-mellow brasses that become dramatic with every arising difficulty.
Things change when a heavy storm hits the mountain, as if a quality switch is finally turned on. The interpretations suddenly become personal, the direction takes a very aggressive turn and an edgy soundscape is used to build the tension. The movie peaks with their descent from the mountain’s peak.
Although screened in a “normal” theatre, it’s obvious that the IMAX format is Everest‘s natural environment.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Everest is released nationwide on 18th September 2015.
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Watch the trailer for Everest here: