Everest – A Review

This is an intense film, tough to watch, beautifully filmed and inspiring all kinds of thoughts.  Well worth going to see.  I was going to write a full review but instead I realised that we already had one in the Solas magazine.  Mark Hadley’s excellent review is below.   This is the kind of thing that the Solas magazine does so well…why not subscribe now?:

RATING: M
RELEASE DATE: September 2015

GEORGE Herbert Mallory, the legendary British climber who died scaling the world’s highest mountain, was asked: “Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?” He famously replied: “Because it’s there.”

My mountain-climbing friends regularly use a variation of the same quote. Halfway up cliffs they often ask each other: “Why do we climb mountains?” And the answer comes back: “Because we’re not all there.”

Together, these lines summarise the determination and lunacy required to pit yourself against peaks that reach to the top of the world. Both qualities are on display in a new film about the men who dare to challenge Mount Everest.

Everest deserves the cliché “star-studded”, with a cast swelled by A-listers like Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley, Robin Wright, Josh Brolin and Sam Worthington. Its story can be summarised in a sentence: “34 climbers who tackle the summit of Everest find their return journey through the heart of a freak storm will prove their greatest challenge of all.”

Everest is based on the true story of the 1996 “Mount Everest Disaster”, during which eight people from various expeditions succumbed to the elements due to a combination of crowded routes, poor planning and naked ambition.

The philosophical focus of the film is the tension arising between those who celebrate the “triumph of the human spirit” and those who recognise we are merelyflesh and blood. Everest records many heroic moments, and many allowances are made for the men and women who balanced their lives against the danger. But it’s worth remembering, even as we celebrate their survival, that we don’t draw our meaning from our ability to endure or overcome. As inspiringas elements of Everest can be, the Bible reminds us: “No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength” (Psalm 33:16 NIV).

God did not make mountains to provide human beings with the opportunity to display how great they are. Everest is a testament to his power, not ours. • Mark Hadley

13 thoughts on “Everest – A Review

  1. “Poor planning and naked ambition… tension arising between… the “triumph of the human spirit” and… we are merelyflesh and blood.” Could be said that as well as between individuals this tension can exist within everyone.

    There’s an old native American Indian proverb that says there is a battle between two wolves in everyone. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The wolf that wins is the one you feed. Sounds not dissimilar to what the apostle Paul said about the battle between the flesh and the Spirit.

    “We don’t draw our meaning from our ability to endure or overcome.” Yes, and as thw writer of Hebrew instructs “endure hardship as discipline… God disciplines us for our good… it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

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  2. David,

    As someone with a bit of an obsession with the mountains – I am delighted to see you give this film the thumbs up. I am biased but it is a great picture – the story is accurately & realistically told which is something that isn’t usually done when retelling these kind of events on film. Go and see it!

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  3. I haven’t watched the movie but if it’s like others in the same genre it’s probably fairly one dimensional with good guys and bad guys rather than a deeper reflection on the motivations of the human heart. It does raise all sorts of questions though. Mallory’s dismissive reply ‘Because it’s there’ was to those who could not understand. Here’s his real motivation:

    “People ask me, ‘What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?’ and my answer must at once be, ‘It is of no use.’ There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron… If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.”

    Mountaineering can easily become an egotistical pursuit – it can become an idol. But done with a purer heart (Titus 1:15) it can be about experiencing the beauty and wonder of God’s creation not just in the external visual experience but in the internal joy of being alive. Something similar to what Eric Liddell said, ‘When I run, I feel His pleasure’.

    Having said that, I think the risks involved in climbing Everest are not worth it – one test of a pure heart is to be able to get out in the mountains and enjoy as a gift of God without having to say you climbed a well known peak.

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  4. Let’s see if you’ll publish this one.

    Do you actually believe god created mountains and deny the science of geology? Orogeny causes natural disasters, so I fail to see what would be great about a god that would allow that. Science (real, not “creation”) overwhelmingly supports these events occurring before people evolved. Isn’t to believe otherwise science denial?
    I suggest reading touching the void, then watching the movie. Joe Simpson did something amazing without resorting to belief in god

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    1. Do I believe that God created mountains and deny the science of geology? No. I believe that God created mountains and accept the science of geology. Many geologists are Christians – I have a geology lecturer in my congregation. In the same way I believe that God created humans but accept the science of biology….there is no contradiction. I would suggest that you read something like John Lennox’s ‘Gods Undertaker’ if you wish to broaden your understanding.

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      1. David, you do realise that what you said was contradictory? The science of geology concerns itself with physical processes and mechanisms. Mountains were created by these processes. How then is a claim that god created them compatible with geology? Also, what age do you believe Dundee law is?
        I’m not sure what relevance the fact you have a geology lecturer in your congregation is to what YOU believe, I know a few Christian scientist myself.
        Again, concerning humans, you are either contradicting yourself, using unclear language or don’t understand biology. You could after all accept the clonal selection theory of antibody production, but still be a YEC, So, to clarify, and avoid any misunderstanding and hysterical accusations etc, lets simplify it, then we are all clear.
        In your opinion, how did mountains form?
        How long (roughly) has man been on this planet?
        Do you believe man evolved from non human ancestors?
        I eagerly await your response.
        I have read plenty of apologetics thanks very much and I find them unconvincing. That’s why I would like to hear what YOU think, especially as you seem to have a lot of opinions on such matters.

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      2. No – its not contradictory at all. If you actually read some science, theology and philosophy you would be able to work out the difference between processes and causes. Try a simple thought….who made the Model T Ford? The machines and men in the factory or Henry Ford? Can you understand why that is such a daft question? Then you will understand why I am smiling at yours….

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    2. Now David, you are being needlessly confrontational. Is it a rational position to assume I have not read these subjects, or indeed the views of other Christians on these matters? Often you criticise folk for not attacking what you actually believe, so, how is reading someone else’s words going to answer that question?
      I still maintain that without clarification your answer is contradictory.
      I notice though, you did not give a straight answer. Many may conclude your answer was evasive. The questions are simple, so lets reduce them to yes or no answers if we can.
      Have our mountains been in their current form for millions of years? Y/N?
      Have our mountains been here in their current form for thousands of years? Y/N?
      Has man been on this planet for around 200 000 years? Y/N?
      Do you believe man evolved from non human ancestors?

      Your ford car example is a smoke screen and a fallacy on many levels. It in no way is analogous to Christian ideas of origins, which fall into two broad camps YECs, where it all happened over 6 days and those who think that god directs the evolutionary process (there are of course variants). Neither position advocates a hierarchy of creative beings, as in your example.
      So David, a simple yes or no to the questions if you please.
      I am interested in your position. If you tell me to just go and read (oblivious to what I have already read), then, would it be reasonable to conclude that you agree with Ken Ham, Fred Felps or Tomas de Torquemada? They have after all pronounced on such matters. I hope you can see why your comment did not address the questions and was rather silly, dismissive and hostile.

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      1. I’m afraid that I simply answered your ridiculous and confrontational illogical mocking accusation. You assumed that believe in God and acceptance of geology are mutually contradictory..it is fairly easy to point out how silly that is. The next time you want to have a go come a little better prepared…and for the record I don’t agree with Ken Ham- but you will forgive me not getting in a long conversation with someone who thinks that believe in God and acceptance of geology are mutually exclusive – ironically that is a position that Ken Ham would share – I suggest you go and talk to him….bye..

        ps You are right in saying that I won’t be continuing this conversation. You did not begin it with any intention of having a discussion. You made a crude attempt to mock and set up a false dichotomy – and now in your latest, you deny that you were setting up belief in God and acceptance of geology as opposites. So now…you can go and waste someone else’s time. When you are ready for a proper adult conversation feel free to come back.

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