Everest is an excellent IMAX movie, one of the best I've seen. I saw this at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. The museum itself was okay---being on the cutting edge of science of technology (and modest about it!) it's hard to get excited about a display tailored for the layperson. But the IMAX film was breathtaking and an awesome spectacle to behold, and for those us in the San Francisco bay area, the IMAX Dome Theatre is a convenient place to see such films.

The film depicts the climb of Jamling Norgay (the son of Tenzing Norgay, one of the first people to climb the mountain in 1953 with Edmund Hillary), Ed Viesturs, and Araceli Segarra. The movie initially is presented from the viewpoint of Jamling, who wants to prove that he too can climb to the top the world like ten others from his family already have. Reality intrudes when the Viesturs team encounters the 1996 tragedy where climbers were caught in a sudden storm so fierce that it left eight people dead in its wake. While we never get to the see the actual bodies, we experience the shock and the grief through the views of Viesturs, Segarra and Norgay who return to base camp following the tragedy. In the end, the Viesturs team makes a second attempt and they manage to reach the summit this time.

The movie is well made, but seeing it on a giant domed screen with digital wrap around sound made it an IMAX experience unlike any other. There is no doubt that the popularity of the film is largely due to the real life tragedy that surrounded its making. Directors David Breashears and Stephen Judson effectively use the drama to acquaint us with the geology and nature of the Himalayan mountains and the Sherpa culture.

What really irks me is that the Sherpas who also make the climb (and who make it possible for the others to make the climb) are largely ignored in the film! These people carried the IMAX camera, a fairly involved piece of equipment weighing eighteen kilograms, heavy (2.5 kilogram rolls of 70mm film which capture only five minutes of action, a 32 kilogram tripod, AND climbed to the top and they're given a passing mention in the final credits. My friend and I were joking that the reason they themselves (the Sherpas) weren't featured in the film was because showing them climbing up with ease (or smoking a cigarette or chatting casually at the summit :) would make the other climbers (who struggled to make the climb) look bad.

All that said, the movie is excellent and inspiring. The events that unfold are filmed as excitingly as any fiction story. After seeing the film, I want to climb Mt. Everest. Would you, if you were given a year or two off of your commitments, the money necessary to make the trip, undertake to climb it? I would in a heartbeat.

Movie ram-blings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org