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Climbing Media Reviewed
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Into Thin Air: Death on Everest
(Drama, PG) Made for TV movie of the Jon Krakauer book by the same title.

Format Video Category Fiction
Title Into Thin Air: Death on Everest  Mins 90 
Starring Christopher McDonald, Peter Horton, Nathaniel Parker  RRP $20.00 AUD 
Director Robert Markowitz  Reviews
Edition Columbia TriStar  Ave Rating ** (1.50 of 5)

Reviews  

User Comments

Mike
5/08/2002
**
This movie is based on the excellent novel Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer, which details a true account of his epic ascent of Mt Everest during the well known 1996 disaster that took the lives of 8 climbers in a single day on the peak. Unfortunately the film is a poor recreation of a truly captivating and compelling book. I suggest you read the book instead, and maybe, if you’re bored one Sunday afternoon, watch this video for some light entertainment.



The plot centres around Jon’s description, as a journalist sent to write up the ascent. Climbing as part of a team of amateur mountaineers, Jon discovers while the participants have paid huge sums of money to be guided up the worlds highest peak by the best in the business, some of them lack the skills and experience to make the trip over terrain that traditionally was reserved for the elite super athletes of mountaineering. Indeed the whole concept of whether a mountain like Everest can ever be “guided” in any sense of the word is brought into question. I felt the movie came across a lot more judgemental in this respect, in comparison to the book. Perhaps they did this to heighten the sense of drama.



The film was made for TV, so it suffers from a distinct lack of budget and even has those annoying fade-outs to allow for commercial breaks. It was shot in Austria, so at least some of the backdrops appear mountainous enough to be convincing, but the vast bulk of the footage is close-ups of actors milling around on some ski slopes, probably within walking distance of the nearest chalet. All the real drama takes place during a blizzard and at night, so they in fact could be anywhere, as all we really see are faces with a bit of spin drift slicing past.

Furthermore the movie takes place over only five days, during the teams final summit bid. We are shown nothing of the months of preparation, altitude adjustment forays up to high camps and down again, endless load hauling on the part of the porters, masses of equipment, etc. Basically the film lacks for realism, even though it is supposed to be portraying a true story. The enormity, terror and incredible exposure of the mountain and task at hand, just doesn’t come across, at least not in comparison to the book.



In fairness there are couple of emotional scenes, that are performed reasonably well, like the moment when Rob Hall, (played by Nathaniel Parker), speaks his last words to his wife, via satellite link up from high on the storm ravaged peak. And Beck coming back from the dead is still amazing, mainly because we know it’s true, rather than due to the magic of the movies. How accurate the movie is to the book, or indeed to the truth of the events as they really were, I can’t comment. However, in summary, I was pretty disappointed with film, mainly because the novel was so compelling, I guess my expectations were set quite high.

 
timstich
31/07/2002
***
A poor substitute for reading the book, "Into Thin Air - Death on Everest" will only satisfy those who can stomach television movies with their requisite commercial break pacing and story over-simplification. Some of the film is passable, but it's barely satisfying enough to go out of your way to see it. Watch it if that's all you have on television on a slow Monday night on the couch. 
Wildtrail
12/08/2002
*
I agree with Tim. The only other thing that can be said is that the actor who played Krakauer didn't whine as much as Krakauer actually does. Which, in itself is a bonus, but fails to grasp the fullness of the real Jon!

The movie was okay at best. A lot of detail has been left out. Read the book instead. 
Mad Dog
8/08/2003
*
I'd give this negative five stars if I could. I consider this to be the worst climbing fiction of all time. Here's the recipe: Take a best-selling book that is eventually exposed to contain healthy doses of dishonesty, bias and bullshit, then give it a few pinches of Vertical Limit to spice it up.

When I first read Into Thin Air, I thought it was truly excellent. But as time passed and others had their say, it became clear that Jon had edited the reality to help ensure the success of his book. Basing a movie on his book, then adding additional "color" to help make it more palatable to the layperson just makes me sick. Rob, Scott, Andy, Yushiko and Anatoli all deserve better epitaphs than this pile of trash provides. 
steveduan
11/12/2003
***
it make me cry 
Anonymous
21/01/2007
*
it made me cry, too. It saddens that such a terrible movie actually exists. Probably the worst movie I've ever seen. And I've seen 'All the Pretty Horses'. 


Further Reading:
Outdoor Review - Review from outdoorreview.com
Apollo Guide - Review from Apollo Guide
Amazon - Details, purchasing, etc.
Planet Fear - A review

 

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