Where Was ‘Everest’ Filmed? The Jake Gyllenhaal Movie Takes Filming On …

18 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Behind the Scenes of Everest: “This Is as Extreme Filmmaking as It Gets”.

Gale-force winds, snowstorms, avalanches and deep crevasses loom out of the screen with threatening reality in this 3-D docudrama depicting a real disaster that killed five people on the world’s highest mountain in May 1996.There are many ways to die on Mount Everest, as evidenced in riveting detail in September’s 3-D IMAX drama Everest, about the 1996 disaster made famous by Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air.

As anyone who read the accounts that followed — most popularly Jon Krakauer’s 1997 best-seller “Into Thin Air” — knows, eight people lost their lives to a rogue storm while trying to summit the planet’s tallest peak, and several more barely escaped the same fate. None of that is glossed over in “Everest,” the new 3-D big-budget account of those events, which is full of big stars playing characters whose fates were sealed almost 20 years ago.

Nearly blinded from the effects of the altitude, his supplemental oxygen depleted, Weathers entered a hypothermic coma and was deemed by fellow climbers to have no chance of surviving. While filming 16,000 feet above sea level, at a monastery in the shadow of the mountain, he captured a scene while so dizzy he calls it “probably the worst scene I ever shot. What is worth noting, however, is that “Everest,” directed by Icelander Baltasar Kormákur, isn’t technically based on any of the books written by survivors. The [director of photography] was so altitude sick he didn’t know what he was shooting.” It did not, as you might expect, make it into the final film. Star Jason Clarke, who plays the expedition’s leader Rob Hall, shared his character’s enthusiasm for the high peaks, and completed hikes alongside co-star Martin Henderson in New Zealand and Scotland to prepare for the role. “I wouldn’t pretend to have the balls that Rob had,” Clarke insists. “But you do understand there’s that sense of freedom and sense of calculation at the same time which has to be married.

Jason Clarke plays Rob Hall, one of the new breed of guides who have made climbing Everest a commercialised big business: there is a virtual traffic jam of well-off middle-aged guys being conducted up to the peak. The others were Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), a postal worker from Washington State, the Japanese businesswoman Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori) and climbing guide Andy Harris (Martin Henderson). With that in mind, this is a big movie, full of characters, and sadly, not all of them get enough screen time when they’re not near-death and suffering through hypothermia to be truly fleshed out. After lying unconscious for 15 hours in brutal conditions, he somehow woke up and staggered down to camp, suffering from severe hypothermia and frostbite that would lead to the loss of his nose and hands. Even indoor scenes took their toll, with jet engines blowing snow and salt into the actors’ faces to simulate a raging blizzard. “We built half a mountain and the Hillary Step and then locked it off in a big freezer and froze it in fucking snow,” Clarke says. “It put me in an ice cave.

Jason Clarke, as Rob Hall, the New Zealander who pioneered guided trips up the mountain, makes the most of things, as does Emily Watson, who plays his assistant, stuck at base camp. He manages to get back on his feet, aided, the film suggests, by images that appear to him of his son and daughter and his wife Peaches (Robin Wright). Josh Brolin, as the Texan Beck Weathers, is given a bit more humanity to work with, but John Hawkes, Sam Worthington and even Michael Kelly, who plays Krakauer, just don’t get enough time to really turn these characters into very real people, though they’re all solid enough. Portrayed by Josh Brolin with cocky bluster and Texas bravado, Weathers at first seems an unlikely hero, but, over the course of the film, his facade falls away and he becomes humanized by the tragedy.

Weathers, now 68, is not a particularly spiritual man, so he doesn’t explain his “resurrection” in terms of miracles or destiny. “My guess is the sun warmed me up just enough that it triggered consciousness.” Or maybe, he suggests, there was another, even more mundane explanation. “That was going to be the day of my daughter’s first date,” he says dryly. “The things some fathers will do to keep their daughter from going out with some grubby-mitted boy.” Clearly Weathers has held on to his sense of humor. I think this is as extreme filmmaking as it gets. “I wanted to create a movie with the intimacy of an indie but the scale of a blockbuster,” Kormákur continues, describing his use of handheld cameras that reminds the audience at all times that “the mountain is always way bigger than you.” A sobering reminder of that happened in real life while the film was in production last year, when an avalanche killed at least sixteen people at an Everest base camp. Weathers also provides a thought-provoking answer to Krakauer’s question, “Why do you do it?” Weathers says when he’s not conquering a mountain it feels like he has a “black cloud” following him.

Though no one from the production was nearby, “we were deeply affected by it,” says Josh Brolin, who plays Beck Weathers in the film. “Just understanding it can happen that fast, it’s that severe, you are that insignificant.” The team behind Everest didn’t put themselves in quite that much danger, but came away with ample respect—and perhaps terror—of the famed mountain. “It takes me out of even my humanity,” says Clarke. “You see how big and magnificent and fearless the world is.” When he reaches the summit “I feel like I’m reborn.” The film’s most poignant moments are the conversations Hall had with his pregnant wife Jan (Knightley), arranged by Hall’s base camp relaying his walkie-talkie transmission from high on the mountain, where he died after two days, to his home. “I love you, please don’t worry too much,” Hall, whose hands and feet are frozen and who has run out of essential oxygen, tells his wife — almost his last words. His nose was reconstructed with skin and cartilage from other parts of his head and neck and, for months, grew on his forehead until doctors could safely attach it to the middle of his face. But it also shows how the dangers can force people who have come along for a thrill to rise to the challenge of saving their life — like Weathers — or lose it. Recovering psychologically took even longer. “For a while you put the emotional healing aside because the physical demands have to be dealt with,” said Peach Weathers, who is played in “Everest” by Robin Wright. “Finally times get quiet and they’re not quite as hard, and you can sort of mull over things.” Over time, it got easier for Weathers to talk about Everest, and, after returning to practice medicine, he eventually began a second career as an inspirational public speaker. “I’ve always been a storyteller.

And then I did.” From the start, Weathers had gravitated toward climbing in an attempt to try to free himself from a depression that had settled on him in college. In all likelihood, people made decisions that day that cost the lives of others, but it’s hard to lay blame on individuals who were attempting to do the right thing and also survive horrendous conditions. Though his growing obsession with mountaineering put a strain on his marriage, by physically pushing him to the limit, he found he could keep the black cloud temporarily at bay. The movie gets it right when it focuses on the crowded conditions, occasional human mistakes, the dedication of Rob Hall and Scott Fischer to their clients, and worst of all, an enormous blizzard that took everyone by surprise, rather than pinning what happened on any particular person. Everest represented the biggest challenge he could imagine, a way to escape his encroaching sense of mortality and to be what he envisioned to be his best self. “I think Beck was trying to prove himself to himself,” Peach says. “He was really hard on himself.

Those going in looking for a traditional adventure story may be disappointed by the film’s ending, especially if they’re unfamiliar with the particulars. I guess it’s just something that you come with.” When Weathers learned that a big-budget Hollywood take on the 1996 Everest disaster was in the works, he was wary, and not only because it would dredge up painful memories. “I’d never seen a Hollywood movie about climbing that I thought was worth a hoot,” he says. “It always looked to me like a bunch of actors on a ski slope screaming at each other.” Over a three-hour meeting in a hotel in Los Angeles before shooting started, Brolin worked to get below the surface of the story Weathers had told so many times, but it took the help of several rounds of Jack Daniels and Coke. “That always seems to tear away a few onion layers,” the actor says. But if I start off as a bit of a jerk, I just have remember that I’m devilishly handsome and I’m married to Robin Wright, so I can stand a little bit of criticism.” For her part, Peach Weathers believes the film gets her husband circa 1996 essentially right. ‘I’m not calling him a jerk — well, maybe I am,” she says. “But I think it was a pretty accurate portrayal of his mind-set.

And maybe that was a mind-set that was absolutely necessary for him to get to Everest and certainly to survive.” Weathers still dreams about Everest sometimes.

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