Into Thin Air: Death on Everest (TV Movie 1997) Poster

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The top of the world
jotix10023 October 2005
The book in which this film is based was a good read because of the events it described in the adventure of climbing the highest mountain on earth, Mount Everest, in the Himalayas. This version of the novel has a look that said "Movie of the Week" all over it. The direction, by Robert Markowitz, tries to involve us in the adventure, but it doesn't quite succeeds.

The film has an episodic look. Almost every scene ends in a fade out in order to move to the next person being portrayed. There are things that don't make much sense, like watching an experienced climber, like Rob Hall, taking off his gloves in that kind of environment. Also, the pathologist Beck Weathers is seen without that protection and hat, suffering from frostbite as he makes an amazing descent into the camp.

The ensemble cast do a passable job about the expedition.
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An Entertaining if flawed adventure film!
Sylviastel19 May 2008
Jon Krakauer's story of climbing Mount Everest earned him his first best seller. Climbing Mount Everest was something that I would have never thought about before until now. It seems exciting even though there have been many casualties of people achieving the difficult climb of almost 40,000 feet. This movie has a good cast featuring Christopher McDonald as Jon Krakauer, Peter Horton as team guide Scott Fischer, and Richard Jenkins as Beck Weathers. The story of the climb reminds me of a Perfect Storm. After they reach the summit, they face treacherous weather and casualties mount. It's question of survival, clash of egos, and arrogance as well as motivation and drive to achieve the almost impossible of reaching MOunt Everest and surviving the experience.
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Top of the World
sol121830 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Tragic but true story about the disastrous mountain climbing expedition of Mount. Everest in the spring of 1996. Two teams assemble at the foot of Everest headed by world renowned mountain climbers Rob Hall and Scott Fischer with a group of armatures climbers who paid as much as $65,000.00 apiece for the opportunity to scale the highest point on earth; the 29,028 foot five and a half mile high Mount. Everest.

Slowly moving up Everest's snowy slopes the teams reach Camp #3 which is just under what is called the "Death Zone" 26,000 feet up where you can't can't survive without an oxygen mask for any long period of time. What these dizzying heights do is cause your lungs to work four times as hard pumping the same amount of air that they normally get at sea level.The brain then swells up causing unbelievably painful headaches with the lungs filling up with liquid, that if not immediately attended to, can drown you. Then your body becomes so starved for nutrients that it starts to literally feed on itself. This is what happens to a mountain climber reaching these heights, +20,000 feet, who's not fully aware and prepared for the reception that he'll get up there from Mother Nature.

Going towards the Everest summit in sub-freezing weather the men, and women, of the expedition scale the dangerous "Hillery Step" which is the last step to climb before reaching the very top. Told by Scott that if it's 2:00PM to immediately start back down, even if the climbers are within 50 yards of the summit, his words are ignored. The climbers instead of turning back after the dreaded 2:00PM deadline keep climbing and one by one they all reach the top of Everest between the 2;00PM cut-off point until as late as 4;45PM which turned out to be a fatal mistake on their part.

Earlier on the climb at camp #1 Sherpa guide Ang Dorge spotted two of the climbers, a man and woman, embracing outside their tent and got very upset feeling that they, not being married, were very disrespectful to the mountain and that it would lead to an angry response from Everest. Being told by climber and writer Jon Krakaur that it's not unusual for an unmarried couple to have relations back home in America. Jon is reminded by Ang Dorge that their in Napal not in America and what he's saying has nothing to do with native superstitions but that it's based experience and reality. Later when the climbers make their chilling decent from the mountain they find out just how real Ang Dorge's words really were.

Leaving late in the afternoon to climb down the mountain, after planting flags and taking photos on Everest's summit, an unexpected storm kicked up and engulfed the entire summit area in darkness with 70 MPH winds and wind-chill temperatures of under -100 degrees. A number of the climbers started getting lost in the snowstorm and then ended up freezing to death. Among those who perished in the snows of Everest were the two team leaders of the exportation Scott Fischer and Rob Hall.

The story of the climb is told to us in flashback by the author of the book "Into Thin Air: Death on Everest" writer Jon Krakaur who also was on the expedition but unlike some of his fellow mountain climbers lived to tell, as well as write, about it.
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An ordinary film, but an overwhelming story
paul2001sw-125 May 2007
The ethics of mountain-guiding are always difficult: you pay a guide to take care of you, but on the hill, you can ultimately only be responsible for yourself. At extreme altitudes, the position is even more obscure: the fees are enormous, but can you really pay a man to die for you? Pat Littlejohn, the fine British climber who I once paid to guide me in the Alps, told me he did not believe in guiding at 8000m. 'Into Thin Air' is a film based on a true story of one occasion when high-altitude guiding went desperately wrong, and several climbers died in one day, including two expedition leaders. The film is relatively sympathetic to New Zealander Rob Hall, although he broke his own golden rule about the time to turn around. American Scott Fisher comes across as more of an egotistical fool. The exploits of Anatoli Boukreev, the senior guide who survived (until another climbing accident a year later) but who was much criticised for his behaviour (including in the book on which this film is based), are less featured.

Since this film was made, of course, 'Touching the Void' has set new standards for mountain movies. That film eclipses this one in several ways: the less melodramatic rendering of events; the use of real interviews with the participants (instead of the ponderous voice-over we get here); a better invocation of the true viciousness of mountain conditions; and not least the superior storyline and dignity of its characters. But that is to judge 'Into Thin Air' by very high standards. It still manages to tell effectively a gripping and tragic story; and is sobering viewing for all of us who love high places.
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Turns a complex and tragic disaster into a TV "Movie of the Week", but still OK
lemon_magic28 August 2005
Finally caught this on cable last night; it looks as if someone took an original made-for-TV movie, removed all the commercial breaks, and sent it straight over to HBO to serve as filler on their late night schedule.

Since this IS obviously a TV movie (you can tell without trying where the commercials were originally inserted, since a 'dramatic climax and musical stinger' moment occurs every 10-12 minutes), it takes a TV movie approach to telling the story. And this is where the problem lies. Even though the screenplay tries very hard to present an even-handed and fair account of a complex and chaotic series of events in under two hours, the way the story is filmed sinks the movie.

I assumed, going 'blind' into this movie (I know of the book, I've read discussions of the book and the events it portrays, but I haven't actually read the book), that since it involved disaster while climbing at high altitudes, that we would be hearing a lot of strained respiration, a lot of gasping and panting, a lot of throaty vocals. I assumed that we would be seeing a bunch of people staggering painfully up snowy slopes, and lots of closeups of actors taking off their snow goggles and respiration masks (revealing chapped, stubbly faces set in lines of strain), making speeches, and then putting the goggles and masks back on again. And then more staggering, lather, rinse, repeat.

And this is essentially the action for 2/3rds of the movie. People gasp, pant, groan, stagger, stumble around, etc., and then take off their goggles and masks and make speeches (or grimace wordlessly into the camera) for what seems like 90% of the screen time. And then they put the mask and goggles back on and stagger and gasp and groan some more. Once the storm hits, and people start dying, it's really just more of the same, just darker and with more flying snow.

I know it is VERY difficult to 'act' in costumes and props like these, which muffle both facial expressions and body language, two of an actor's most important resources. It must have been a tremendous challenge for the director and cast to try to make a compelling, but entertaining story with this handicap...and while everyone here gives it their best effort, they are essentially defeated by the enormity of the challenge of trying to 'act' under these conditions and with this kind of story and camera treatment. The movie desperately needed more long shots, more establishing shots that let the viewer figure out where all the parties are in relationship to each other, less jump cutting between faces and more character development of each actor's part (other than 'ready to drop from fatigue').

So the results are, well, mixed. I am certain that for the climbers caught in the Everest disaster, that the experience was indeed essentially an endless nightmare of bone-numbing cold and fatigue, gasping for air, and stumbling around with barely a clue. So I think you could say that "Into Thin Air" gives the viewer an accurate subjective view of how it FELT to be in that situation, and on that level, it is a success. But as a story, as an attempt to convey the actual events and decisions, personalities and politics that lead to the actual disaster, it fails both as a documentary and as entertainment.

I also think that the professional and amateur climbing community might have its own reservations about this movie, and its glib summaries of the many complexities and intricacies of the kind of people who climb stuff for fun. But that's for them to bring up, not me.

So, in summary : glad I finally saw it, and I plan to go read the book now. But I don't think it was an especially successful movie.I'm not even sure that a successful dramatic movie (as opposed to a documentary) CAN be made about this story. I give these folks credit for trying hard, but they couldn't get make this story fit into a TV movie format.
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A pretty thin mountaineering tale
Philby-317 July 2002
I thought Jon Krakauer's book on the 1996 Everest climbing disaster, while not great literature and while a rather subjective and partial account, was well-observed and reasonably absorbing. This film, derived from the book, is a very thin account. Shot in Austria, it does not even have the actual Himalayan scenery of the Everest Imax film which was shot in the same calamitous 1996 climbing season. The acting is at least professional; Nat Parker as guide Rob Hall is quite convincing, though his NZ accent switches to London Cockney at times, and Peter Horton does a good impression of the ebullient American guide Scott Fisher.

On the other hand Chris McDonald as Krakauer relies overmuch on his single facial expression of worried concern. The script is pretty awful and the story more a collection of scenes than a coherent narrative. A lot of the time I had to rely on my knowledge of the book to work out what was going on. As for the factual inadequacies (12 people died, not 5, no mention of the South African party, Taiwanese barely mentioned) I forgive the producers for trying to slim things down a bit – it was a messy disaster.

Even so this has all the hallmarks of a `let's cash in' quick and dirty TV movie – it appeared less than 18 months after the incident. It's not likely to change anyone's ideas about mountaineering though I suppose there is some schadenfreude in seeing rich doctors and socialites with no or limited climbing experience attempting to wipe themselves out in various stupid ways at very high altitudes. The Darwin prize of course goes to the client who stepped outside of his tent one morning with only his boot liners on his feet and went for a fatal skid down the mountain.

I felt a little sorry for the guides, generally people who love the mountains, having for economic reasons to take such awful people up them; in my day as an amateur climber I at least got to choose my companions, though some of them were pretty wild. The exploitation of the Sherpas is also hard to take; even though they are willing participants, climbing has become part of their economy, and there are few other options. If I had seen Lopsang Sherpa struggling up the Lhotse face with Sandy Pitman's 30lb satellite phone I would have chucked it down the nearest crevasse. And if Sandy complained, I would have invited her to join it.
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As Good As Can-Be-Done
Snowgo3 April 2014
Under the constraints and parameters of trying to re-create historically-accurate, emergency conditions on Mt. Everest, as experienced by a somewhat disparate and hodge-podge assembly of climbers and guides, this movie excels. I beg to differ most ardently with those who have said that the characters "lack development": Krakauer's doubts, misgivings and apprehensions give a great deal of texture to the humanity and psychology involved. Hall's conventional wisdom, won from massive climbing experience, in contrast to the naivety, ego and inexperience of some of the climbers, gives a clear illustration of the rift in the social dynamic of the group. Anatoli Boukreev is depicted as complex, demanding and rigid, but his act of heroism: Going back out into the storm to find lost climbers after just barely making it back to his tent with his life, is one of the high points in the movie, and unexpected, as well. The photography is excellent. Technical talk regarding weather, physiology and hardware is heard, but it is not overwhelming. Some of the climbers are not introduced thoroughly, but that only adds to the mystery and excitement of the movie: One is never quite certain how some of the climbers will perform. Considering that the two group leaders lost their lives on this climb, it is very likely that the relentless heroism as portrayed in Into Thin Air is quite close to the truth: They probably ended up sacrificing themselves to save others. Although the movie was, for obvious reasons, not filmed at 100 below zero windchill farenheit, I don't see how to make it any better without stretching it to two hours long and jeopardizing the actors and crew with even-harsher conditions. This movie was done with a great deal of respect for those involved in this event. I will not call what happened in 1996 a tragedy, though: We also have to see the magnitude of the victory of the human spirit involved.
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chad-6131324 November 2021
This is almost a 25 year-old movie, and I doubt you'll see any recent reviews. But seeing how it's now airing on Prime, I figured I'd write one just in case. The book by Jon Krakauer is very well done and an excellent read. However, it tells only his version of what happened on the mountain.

This TV film is a disgrace to those that died that tragic day. It portrays Krakauer as some kind of hero. I mean seriously, I felt like the movie made almost everyone look like an idiot except for him. But let's clear that up.

Krakauer never made any attempt to rescue anyone that night. He never spoke to anyone over the radio because there was no radio at camp 4. He never went outside and banged on pots and pans. All Mr. Krakauer did was rush home to write a book pointing fingers at people no longer alive to defend themselves as well as the remaining survivors.

Watch the 2015 Everest movie, it's much better. Krakauer claims it's trash, but that's only because he's butt hurt that no one from Hollywood asked for his advice. And I'm so happy they left him out of it!!!

Remember, Krakauer is a journalist - so you know how that goes - story first, truth later, if at all.

After The Wind by Lou Kasischke is an excellent book. Lou was on the mountain and part of Rob Hall's team and shares his experience.

The Climb by Anatoli Boukreev - also an excellent read!!
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Really bad made for TV movie
Nocgirl722 April 2009
I am intrigued about Everest after watching the Discovery Channel series "Everest: Beyond the limit" where they follow hikers up this mountain using helmet cams. This movie is based off the book about a deadly day on Everest where 8 hikers died in a massive storm, but an amazing survival story of Beck Weathers emerged. I was pleased to see Richard Jenkins from "The Visitor" playing Beck Weathers. The story gets totally lost in bad acting and bad music. Wikipedia has a better run down on Beck Weathers than this movie portrayed. Early on the movie focus on the dangerous commercialization of Everest and how trekking companies will sell a 50k permit to anyone that wants to hike Everest regardless of experience. It is a very dangerous game. However the move loses focus about 30 minutes into it. The music is really bad too. The whole movie is just bad. Skip it and rent the Discovery series instead, or just read the book.
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Nathaniel Parker as Rob Hall is the reason to watch this film
countryway_488642 June 2003
After reading many comments about this film I see that most of those who saw the film thought it a tacky and not very well-done attempt at cashing in on a real tragedy. I agree in part.

First of all, I watched Into Thin Air with Jon's book on my lap. The resemblances were, for the most part, stunning. Nat Parker looks so much like Rob Hall they could have been brothers. Horton isn't as tall or as handsome as Fischer, but fairly close. I wished they'd had Horton wear Scott's trade-mark pony-tail. And so it goes.

Many people objected to the non-Everest setting. For that you must consult the Miramax documentary filmed at the time of the tragedy. I have that film as well.

Too me the Into Thin Air group did a good job of simulating the conditions on Everest and the quiet heroism of both Hall and Scott at the end.

The real reason to watch Into Thin Air is to watch Nat Parker as Hall. He has superb control and is beautifully understated. He always makes you believe that he could guide you up anything and take you back down again, safely. He conversation with his wife is one of the most remarkable scenes I've ever watched. Intimate, warm and sadly filled with hope that is all bravura on Hall-Parker's part and all faith in her husband's ability to survive on Mrs. Hall's end. This scene had me in tears, just as the real voice of the real Rob Hall recorded in the Miramax documentary made me cry.

Not a great film by any means, but still worth watching.

This is a cautionary tale. Don't take silk sheets, coffee makers and computers to Mt. Everest, unless you are willing and able to carry them yourself.

The exploitation of the Sherpa's by professional climbing teams is well known. Tenzing Norgay cautioned his son, Jam-Ling NOT to become a beast of burden when he climbed Everest for himself.
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Weak character development marred the movie.
ipswich-221 April 2000
There've been mixed reviews on this TV adaptation of a book. I think you either love or hate it, there's no two ways. I'm not an avid mountaineer so perhaps I'm missing the finer aspects of this movie. Based on Jon Krakauer's book, the story is a fascinating account of the tragic event of May 10, 1996 when two ill-fated expeditions to climb Mt Everest took place and the mishaps that occurred. On a pure emotional level, this is a disturbing look at how climbers -- both experts and novices -- can be so naive and over confident that they think they can use money and the latest technology to scale the tallest peak in the world. But as a movie, I found the sequence of events farcical and character development poor. The trouble with converting a book into a movie is that you have to get everything into under two hours. Something had to give, and a lot did in the end. The movie did provide me some consternation on the danger of climbing, but nothing much more.
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Failed to live up to subject matter
wmadavis19 June 2001
I was very interested in the subject of this movie, but I found it failed to really live up to it's material. It apparently didn't have enough time to develop it's characters, or wasn't skillful enough in portraying them. They should have put more money and time into this production, it could have been so much better. The film rushes through the facts as quickly as it can. It should've been a 3-hour production with a better script. One odd thing: Jeff Perry portrays climber Doug Hansen, when he actually bears a resemblance to another well-publicized member of the expedition, the Doctor who had been left for dead. I found that confusing.
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Read the book instead.
rbatty3 January 1999
While it seemed like a pretty good and realistic portrayal of a climb of Everest (I am not a climber and have no intention of taking up the "sport"), I found the book far better than the movie. Krakauer's book was subtle in places where the movie felt it had to slap you in the face. And the movie failed to show the up and down climbing that the team has to do -- going up to another base camp to get acclimated, then back down to regain strength -- in order to be ready to begin the final assault on the mountain.
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Ester Hall
xdguy1 April 2019
Ester Hall in Black Mirror "Hated in the Nation" is so Hot. Nerdy Hot in the best of ways. No way to comment on that page so here it is. - Side note here is that this is a good book and I want to watch on my list of movies to see. Now I know she is in it it'll move to the top of my movie queue.
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Excellent Although Not The Whole Story
webmouse2 March 2008
"Into Thin Air: Death On Everest" is a wonderful film and a good start into understanding -- if that is possible -- the need some people have to climb mountains. The film covers the main events of Krakauer's experience and condenses characters to fit the needs of a 90 minute TV film. While the basics are here, the story has been greatly slimmed down and the amount of time involved, truncated. For instance, I would have liked to have seen the daring helicopter rescue by a very brave Nepalese army pilot. To mark a landing spot, those on the mountain made a large X in the snow with a red sports drink.

Since the film was produced directly from Krakauer's book, it does not reference other accounts. Krakauer later admitted that some of the details he wrote were incorrect because he was as addled as everyone else, mistaking one climber for another. Krakauer's book is only one of several accounts of the tragic climb that took a fifteen lives in all. This movie could have used an extra half hours to cover more details, but it is fair to say that this is not meant to be a documentary. It comes down to a study of human hubris when faced with the drive to challenge the highest peak on Earth.

For those who want to understand the complexity of the real drama, it is necessary to study the other points of view, some of which contradict Krakauer. A good second film to watch is the IMAX film "Everest" which was filmed during the same climb. Anatoli Boukreev wrote a reply to Krakauer in his book "The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest." Scott Fisher's lead Sherpa, Lopsang, also responded to Krakauer's criticisms in writing. Tragically, both Boukreev and Lopsang died in separate climbing accidents not long after the fatal Everest events (Lopsang in September 1996 and Boukreev in December 1997).

For those who wonder about what it would be like to climb Everest, it is much safer to watch the film. It is about all the experience most of us will ever need.
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Not enough died
SlimAdey2 March 2005
I believe the book of this film is a minor classic in climbing circles - the film must rank as a minor disaster.

Watching this film left me with not one single shred of sympathy for any of the climbers who died in fact I was disappointed so many survived.

Are we led to believe that on an expedition to climb Everest one of the climbers successfully chatted up another (female) climber and we had the absurd scene of him entering her tent with the Sherpa wisely shaking his head and remarking that "the spirits of the mountain will not be pleased"? Is it likely that ANY climber on ANY mountain whilst sheltering in a storm with wind chill temperatures of -100F would take his balaclava and gloves off as did at least 2 of the actors? Can someone explain how a man near death manages to see out the storm overnight WITHOUT gloves and WITHOUT anything on his head and wake up as if he's just been upstairs for a nap? Is it possible for a woman at 28,000 feet to start screaming hysterically whilst everyone around her is gasping for breath through oxygen deficiency? How unrealistic does a film have to be when you have the unbelievably absurd scene of a man being "patched through" to his pregnant wife and talking to her as if she's 3 blocks away? Does anyone believe that one of the climbers bought her own coffee making machine plus PC and desk !!!! If you want to see a film about mountaineering go and see "Touching the Void" - if you want to see a film about implausible, unrealistic and unbelievable people on a mountain then watch this rubbish.
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Cheap, unconvincing and rushed
Spike-in-Berlin27 December 2005
As someone who has read Jon Krakauers novel I was really interested in this movie although I did not expect much and how right I turned out to be. The movie is extremely rushed, we are barely introduced to the expedition members and already we go up to the summit. In only a few days of course because nearly everything concerning the preparations, the partially really amusing incidents in basecamp, the acclimatisation was cut out of the movie to show us a rush, no a blitz up the summit. The other expeditions, especially those responsible for a lot of the disaster because they were completely incompetent and inexperienced from Taiwan e.g. and the Indians who perished in the storm are ignored (Indians) or have minimum appearance (Taiwanese, I hated these jerks when I read the book). And although I am not an alpinist myself I did not believe a second this movie showed us Mt. Everest but some mountain in a much lower mountain range (actually Austrian Alps). I mean they are supposed to stand on the highest summit worldwide and in the background you see at least one clearly higher summit, how cheap is that? Well it is obviously as cheap as this movie was although the actors are really trying but they cannot create sympathy for their paper-thin characters with the few lines they got from this poorly written script. But I simply cannot take (or even stand) a scene seriously where a professional mountain climber in the midst of a snowstorm in the death zone takes of his gloves, breathing mask and other protections for no reason whatsoever...only perhaps because we shall see his face's expressions in a death scene? Too inaccurate for a documentation and not good or interesting enough for a movie-drama. And that the other 7! deaths of this day were not even mentioned in the epilogue was quite tasteless. Because the movie was fairly entertaining and the actors at least tried 3 out of 10.
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mccurdy44412 August 2005
This is an excellent book that was translated into a poorly written, poorly acted movie. I was really looking forward to watching this when I saw it on the cable guide. Imagine my disappointment as I watched the undeveloped characters morph into Hollywood cariactures and the story line turn into a study of glibness. The director seemed to be rushing from one scene to the next, pausing just long enough to allow someone to spout some clichéd line. I just didn't care about the people and wasn't too interested in their quest. It's almost as if this movie was a homework assignment that someone had to get out of the way before he could move on to what he really wanted to do.The book was educational and compelling. Jon Krakauer deserved better.
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Truly dreadful
wbbartlett25 August 2016
Jon Krakauer's book has had its share of controversy but overall was a good attempt to tell a harrowing story as it was. This film does not begin to do it justice. Key characters are swapped around, heroes made of those who weren't (no criticism of anyone there, for whom it must all have been awful) and those who performed heroic feats like Anatoli Boukreev have their part much diminished. The tremendous actions of some of the Sherpas there was hugely played down too. The acting was wooden, the whole thing looked as if had been thrown together in a couple of hours.I felt unbelievably angry by the time that I struggled through to the end. What a tragic waste of a compelling if altogether catastrophic story.
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Disappointing **SPOILER ALERT**
rodrigues-lisa25 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILER ALERT I am not even all the way through watching the movie, and I know it will be a struggle to finish it. Too many holes in the plot and too many glaring errors.

The Korean climber who slips and falls dies in the movie... he actually survived with relatively minor injuries. Then, the climbers are all almost always depicted without their oxygen masks. Yes, I know it's only a movie, but that critical detail was annoying beyond forgiveness.

I found the dramatization of the deaths of Andy, Doug, Scott, and Rob to be melodramatic at best and disrespectful at worst. The book speaks of Beck having hallucinations of being at a beach with his wife - then the movie shows Rob having that dream right before his phone call to his wife.

The movie turns Krakauer from the role of participant/survivor to someone who almost seems to be the only one interested in any rescue attempts. Certainly he has expressed his survivor's remorse, but the movie misrepresents his actions on May 11.

Don't waste your time with this movie... read the book - then read "The Climb" by Anatoli Bourkreev.
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Unless you have been there or close, you have no idea
Owen5-15 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I am only writing this review because of the half witted comments made about it by people who have not risked their lived climbing mountains. I have had exposure several times and nearly died on two occasions, while my wife nearly died once. My son had frostbite on nine toes on one of our trips. Mountain climbing is no joke and the professional guides who risk their lives to take spoilt rich idiots up there have my sympathy. I wonder how many of these spoilt brats have killed their guides and porters and I don't mean just on Everest. I loved the "character development" comment by one reviewer who sort of missed the point that it was a true story and that in such an action dominated drama there isn't room for any such aesthetics. The movie does what it set out to do: show that money can make even a sensible man break his own rules and kill himself. Not out of greed but because he felt an obligation towards his client above and beyond money, something that the truly rich will never appreciate.It is a fact that the most heroic actions that we know of are probably only 10% of the actual number as most act and die unseen. The movie shows the events accurately. Sure there are flaws but before you open your mouth try it yourself then see how close to the bone it cuts. Rob Hall's famous "phone call" to his wife is one of the great Everest moments and really should be classed as a great move moment. I have NOT read the book but I have climbed not a few mountains. As for the acting, it seemed realistic to me and I will tell you I didn't spend too much time looking at others unless there was trouble as you only look at the next step and the weather. I have no idea if the movie followed the book but I know that the movie followed the true story and that is all that matters. This ISN'T a movie. It is a film pseudo-documentary and any comments about plot, characters etc are totally irrelevant. At the very least it may keep some rich idiot amateurs from killing more professionals. In my opinion it achieved it aims perfectly and that is my theme above: to show the real reason that Rob Hall died anything else is superfluous. As for not following the book? Who cares? It tells the story adequately. You must remember that the author was an amateur mountaineer and one of those "rich idiots" and i have little sympathy for him although his survival was miraculous.
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I've got mixed emotions about this movie
keram24 April 2002
I'm not sure who this movie is for. Those who have read Krakauer's book won't find anything new here (except for the scenery). Those who have not are not very likely to appreciate the almost-documentary format of the film. The director chose to present an accurate and informative account of the May 1996 events and did a really good job in that department. This being not a documentary, however, Markowitz also felt it necessary to pass a certain message with the story, in this case: "Respect the mountain, or somebody (you) will pay the price". Unfortunately, this message comes across in a somewhat forced way. For example, Scott Fischer is portrayed as a rather irresponsible yahoo (with one exception, when he carries a sick client down to the base camp), who doesn't really care much about all that safety crap. This is not an impression I got from Krakauer's "Into Thin Air". Of course, Fischer is doomed to be punished and acts indeed as if this climb were one-way for him. I find it hard to believe that a person with that kind of attitude could have established himself as a highly respected Everest guide. The point is, a mountain tragedy like the one that happened on Everest cannot be put so easily into words or pictures, nor can it be easily translated into a lesson or a moral. The behaviour and fate of climbers under such extreme circumstances go beyond simple logic and judgment. This is partly what is so dangerous but also appealing about high-altitude mountaineering in general. Too bad the director did not take advantage of all the cinematographic means at his disposal to convey some of those surreal and incomprehensible aspects of climbing, rather than concentrating on the reproduction of factual details.
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Ignoring heavy-handed soundtrack elevates appreciation
CuBO-LA17 November 2021
Objectively this is a very good, well-acted, realistic and emotional depiction of what happened on Everest. What HURT this film was the syrupy, tell-us-how-to-feel, SNL-parody-of-melodramatic-TV-movie-sounding soundtrack. SO intrusive and undermining of what could have been authentic emotions and gravitas. Like a drunk aunt crying histrionically at a funeral to make it all about her.

If you can recognize and ignore that, this is a gripping, well-told story.
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A clueless account and sad disservice to the cause of mountaineering
makrygialos21 February 2000
It is one thing for a film about the struggle for the world's summit to be filmed on Austrian snow slopes. It is quite a different matter to present team situations, issues of high altitude climbing and human behaviors in a totally dishonest manner, apparently in a desire to milk a genuine drama for any hollywood cliches it might yield. Crowds of people strung together along ridges screaming hysterically at each other. An embarrassingly clueless account and a sad disservice to the cause of mountaineering.
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Compelling and moving.
daviesuk3 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I'm a non-mountaineer who has no desire ever to become one, but I found this film totally compelling and most moving. I defy anyone not to weep at the scene where Rob Hall speaks to his wife as he lies dying.

I have seen it three times now, and intend to read the book upon which it is based, and others. I appreciate that the film may be a partial view, based as it is on one man's account, and I agree that at times it can be confusing, but the story and action are so strong that they carry you through.

As most of the audience won't be expert mountaineers, and as anyone interested can find out as much as they like by reading the books, I think this film is an admirable success.
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