Mounting Working Title’s Everest, which opens the Venice Film Festival on Wednesday, was a climb that Sisyphus wouldn’t have envied. A long development period came with financing issues and the inherent challenges of shooting in a decidely inhospitable environment.
“Balt came along and crafted, forgive my French, a f***-off film. It’s got spectacle and integrity and heart.” -Jason Clarke
Jason Clarke leads an ensemble that includes Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley, John Hawkes, Michael Kelly, Emily Watson, Robin Wright and Sam Worthington. The Deep helmer Baltasar Kormakur was trusted with capturing the story that involved shooting at Base Camp and in the Dolomites with actors learning to use crampons in sub-zero temperatures and amid avalanche evacuations before getting their eyes blasted with salt on a Pinewood soundstage. (Although no one from Everest was injured, there were also tragedies on the mountain and in Nepal during and after production — trailers for the film are tagged with requests for donations to the relief effort.)
Good interview guys and I’m looking forward to the movie.
Ultimately, Universal took international and Walden Media and Cross Creek came in to finance the rest. The filmmakers persevered with what Clarke calls “a f***-off film.” He plays Rob Hall, who was leading an expedition up the mountain on May 10, 1996 when a vicious storm hit. Gyllenhaal is Scott Fischer who was in charge of a competing expedition. Both teams suffered losses when members were stranded in the Death Zone — where “human beings simply aren’t built to function at the cruising altitude of a 747,” as Clarke/Hall says in the film.
Universal begins international rollout on Everest, which will play heavily in IMAX 3D, on September 16. It takes the film out domestically on September 18.
I spoke with the hands-on Kormakur, along with producer Tim Bevan who had shepherded the project for more than a decade, and Clarke about the challenges of pulling the project together, spending time with the families of the victims, the eternal question of “why” climb that mountain — and what it’s like to follow in the footsteps of awards magnets Gravity and Birdman as the curtain rises on Venice.