The September issue of Outside magazine, on newsstands today, completes a full circle tied to some tragic events atop Mount Everest in May 1996. Jon Krakauer, who on behalf of Outside was part of one of the expeditions ascending that fateful Summit Day, went on to write his celebrated book account Into Thin Air. But it is another movie, 20 years later, that has lapped his tome to the big screen.
From the cover story by Outside digital editorial director Nick Heil, for which the writer spoke with Everest stars Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal and Josh Clarke as well as director Baltasar Kormákur and several of the movie’s producers:
KORMÁKUR: Krakauer was not contacted directly. Into Thin Air is a great book, but it’s about a writer who goes up a mountain. [Our movie] isn’t about a single perspective. It’s about the fine line between the guides who take people up the mountain and those who pay to go up. I don’t think we strayed away from the critical events, but I’m not going to tell you how to go up the mountain – what is right and what is wrong. I’m not a moral preacher. I wanted to give audiences the story and let them judge.
Everest was shot in Nepal, Italy and on a pair of famous soundstages. At Cinecitta Studios in Rome, Base Camp was recreated. And at Pinewood Studios in the U.K., the Everest summit and high ridges were simulated.
To duplicate the May 1996 storm conditions, Kormákur procured massive amounts of salt that was fanned into the actors’ faces. Heil raves that ‘the film’s high-altitude survival scenes are more convincing and realistic than anything Hollywood has ever produced.’ E.g., a long way from the 1997 ABC-TV movie based on Krakauer’s book.
Everest opens Sept. 18.