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'Everest'an IMAX film

by Phil Guidry

The key to successful journalism (and filmmaking) is being in the right place at the right time. This is especially true in the case of Everest, the wildly-successful IMAX documentary of one of the most compelling adventures of the modern era.

Through ingenuity and sheer luck - whether their luck is good or bad depends on your perspective - Greg MacGillivray and his crew set out to film a documentary on the attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest, and instead became eyewitnesses to the most deadly string of events in mountaineering history. Though the story of this awful May 1996 tragedy, which claimed the lives of eight people (including famed mountain guide Rob Hall of New Zealand), has been chronicled worldwide in Jon Krakauers Into Thin Air, Everest offers a perspective like no other.This film is immensely powerful, a heartstopping, gutwrenching climb to the top of the world that spreads before your eyes in exhilarating 70mm fashion.

The film was written by longtime Outside editor Tim Cahill and narrated by Academy Award nominee Liam Neeson, but what sets Everest apart as one of the finest adventures captured on film is the dazzling, often-dizzying cinematography. The great Himalayas unfold like brooding sentinels from another world, and Everest (a sacred place the local Sherpa tribesmen call "Chomalungma") dominates the scene. In light of all that took place on this mountain, to see the white tempestuous swirls ripping across its North Face is bone-chilling.

And even more chilling is the crews sense of fear and dread when things begin to go horribly wrong. While the documentary is a study in the lives of the IMAX team, they are on the scene for the tragedies befalling the other groups on the mountain on those fateful days. In particular the story of Hall, one of the most beloved figures in the sport, is almost painful to watch. When Hall, trapped and dying at 29,000 feet, utters his last words through his walkie-talkie, you want to turn away, to burst into years but you cannot tear your eyes from the screen before you.

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