Movie Review By Heather Clisby
At a recent screening of the IMAX adventure-documentary, "Everest", stunned audience members streamed out of the theatre uttering things like: "Wow" and "Why?" as in, Why would you risk life and limb to reach the world's highest peak? It's cold there and there's no air and you just have to come right back down anyway . . . and those avalanches!
An IMAX film is a heightened sensory experience in itself; the dome screen, the reclining chairs and 14,000-watt stereo system make for an especially intense glimpse into the world of serious mountain climbing.
Narrated by Liam Neeson and directed by David Breashears, the film follows the quest of three people who want to reach the 29,000-foot peak for different reasons. Ed Viesturs, the United States leading mountaineer, is working on his goal of climbing the world's 14 highest peaks with no oxygen. Oh, and because he's also on his honeymoon, his wife, Paula, comes along for support but not for the climb.
Jamling Tenzing Norgay strives for the peak to live up to the legend of his father, Tenzing Norgay, who, along with Sir Edmund Hillary, completed the first successful climb of Everest in May 1953. Then there is Araceli Segarra, an incredibly beautiful woman who "just loves to climb." Right before our eyes, she becomes the first Spanish woman to reach the famed summit.
What makes this film so powerful is not just the grueling physical feats and the awesome beauty of nature but the raw emotions that surface when the group is witness to tragedy. By sheer coincidence, the team happens to be present on Everest's deadliest day, May 10, 1996, when a freak storm froze eight experienced climbers dead in their tracks. Among the dead was Rob Hall, a close friend of Viesturs. In a gut-wrenching voice-over, we hear him describe the final phone call between Rob and his wife, seven months pregnant, in which they choose the name for their newborn child, just before he went to sleep and died.
I never thought I'd be sitting in an IMAX theatre crying through such an unbelievably sad drama. This isn't a Hollywood epic or a seedy episode of "COPS" but real true life at it's absolute grand extreme, the kind of thing you never forget.
Let's face it, these people aren't like you and me. They don't hang out in movie theaters and eat Red Vines; they hang from exotic far-off cliffs and consume things like dirt tea. Death does not scare them; they are living the only way they know how to be happy. We are fortunate to be witness.
© 1999 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 1/27/99
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