Year Released: 2015
Directed by: Baltasar Kormakur
Starring: Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Robin Wright, Kiera Knightley
(PG-13, 121 min.)
Genre: Drama, Action and Adventure, Mystery & Suspense
“Human beings simply aren't built to function at the cruising altitudes of a seven-forty-seven.” Rob Hall
Everest! The adventure of a lifetime. Journey through exotic Katmandu, dazzling in saffron and cinnamon hues. Enter a mountaintop Buddhist monastery for a ritual blessing and ceremonial scarf. Endure numbing cold, sudden avalanches, and almost vertical icy ascents to plant your flag at its 29,029 foot peak.
Only on this virtual trip you will not have to fork over the $65,000 price tag, merely a somewhat inflated 3D admission ticket. Nor will you have to suffer the oxygen deprivation, frostbite, or in some cases, death. But you will feel like you are right up there with these fearless climbers, and perhaps a bit cold and exhausted as you flee the theater to your comfortable sedan in the parking lot.
Why do they do it, we cannot help but ask. The film tries to give us some answers. Postman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), there on his second attempt, hopes to set an example for his sons, a “regular guy following his impossible dream.”
Rich Texan Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin) claims that only climbing frees him from the depression that haunts him at sea level.
What other sentient beast purposely puts itself in harm’s way? Maybe our genes, having evolved over centuries when life was a daily struggle against the elements, terrifying beasts, and fearsome enemies, prods us on. These men and women to the mountains, the rest of us to the theatres for the vicarious thrills.
This is indeed a death-defying trek. As guide Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) tells his group, “Human beings simply aren't built to function at the cruising altitudes of a seven-forty-seven.” With oxygen so scarce, they will literally be dying as they approach the peak.
But it is also a far cry from the first efforts of early climbers such George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, who perished in their attempt in 1924, or Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the first reach the summit and live to tell about it in 1953.
In fact, it is almost a commercial venture in 1996, the time frame of the film. The various base camps have a resident doctor, a mini weather station, and bottled oxygen for the trip, though a few of the old school guides refuse to use the latter.
They even have their own media personalities along for the trek, too, and there is in fact a bit of a competition for the Outside magazine writer Jon Krakauer.
The ropes on high are already in place for the paying climbers, as well, or so they think. But the crowds create their own problems, too, creating some deterioration of the trails and as well as long waits in the numbing cold to take their turn at narrow crossings. In fact, the group nervously waiting to cross a ladder bridge over a deep ice canyon does not look that different from the line at the amusement park’s roller coaster.
All this high tech commercial stuff aside, Everest is still Everest, and that beast is not easily tamed. The climbers may monitor the weather, but their human nature begs them to push their chances against it.
Bottled oxygen and rope paths are prey to human frailty as well, and even the milk of human kindness puts more than one life in jeopardy.
The production values are stunning and the acting is first rate. Everest is a must see for all adventurers, an adrenaline rush for acrophobiacs like me, and a nice cool down to get through a summer simmer that refuses to yield to autumn, at least down here in Texas.
Like a siren song the stark Mount Everest beckons our climbers. But before the death-defying trek, they pass through exotic Katmandu.
Let’s join them there for a hot and spicy Chicken Katmandu, bathed in pungent cilantro, coriander, cumin and turmeric. Delicious!
1 T. oil
2 onions, halved and sliced vertically
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 lg. very ripe tomato, chopped (ore use canned)
2 chili peppers, halved, seeded and sliced
1/2 cup hot water
Salt to taste
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups cooked basmati rice or long grained rice.
How to make it
Heat oil. Add onions and turmeric and sauté until onions are very soft, about 15 minutes. Raise heat, add chicken and brow slightly. Add garlic, cumin, coriander, tomatoes and peppers. Stir together. Add hot water and salt; simmer over low heat until chicken is tender, stirring occasionally. Add cilantro and cook just a few minutes longer. Serve over rice.