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25 September 2015

Everest: the drive to reach new heights

Everest: the drive to reach new heights

For most of us, just getting out of bed on a Monday morning can feel like climbing a mountain. So what is it that motivates people to attempt one of the most gruelling and perilous feats on earth - the summiting of Mount Everest?

New blockbuster Everest tells the true story of a climb which took place in 1996. Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) and Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) both run companies that offer ordinary people the chance to have the mountaineering adventure of a lifetime. Their clients include Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), who wants to be "the first mailman on Everest"; brash Texan Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin) and journalist Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly). When Krakauer - who’s writing a book about the expedition - asks the group why they’re risking everything to tackle the mountain, they reply with the words of famous mountaineer George Mallory: "Because it’s there!"

This grand ambition collides with human frailty as the climbers reach the thin air of the infamous ‘death zone’, and a ferocious storm closes in. Base camp manager Helen Wilton (Emily Watson) tries to take control of the deteriorating situation, while back at home, Rob’s pregnant wife Jan (Keira Knightley) waits anxiously for news.

Everest offers an immersive cinema experience, aiming to capture something of the terror and wonder felt by the brave few who dare pit themselves against the slopes. The film doesn’t shy away from the consequences of overreaching ourselves, but neither does it point the finger: the question of hubris is there, but we’re also encouraged to admire the courage and heart of these adventurers.

We may never personally attempt the ascent of Everest, but this film reminds us that the drive to strive for new heights is hard-wired into human nature. We all live in the tension between our limitations and our dreams.

Everest is out in UK cinemas now. For free official community resources visit http://everest.damaris.org