everest is an ambitious title for a movie. it claims the highest peak and the popular conceptions and lived experiences that surround it, but for good reason. It recounts the moment “the commercialization of Everest” began, director Baltasar Kormakur told Variety, through the lens of a 1996 expedition that killed eight climbers during a particularly brutal season. It is based on John Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air, which tells the story of that fateful and fateful year. Krakauer accompanied the climbers on part of his expedition, and now Jake Gyllenhaal and Jason Clarke will bring the story to life. but how did they do it? Was Everest Really Filmed on Mount Everest?
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Filming took place in various locations in frozen Europe, as well as at Everest Base Camp. Due to the challenges of climate, weather, and the grueling lack of oxygen at Everest’s heights, the filmmakers selected less intimidating peaks to represent the tallest mountain. That’s not to say that the more accessible mountains were that much easier: temperatures in the Dolomites, one of the filming locations, reached minus 20 degrees. The filmmakers and actors took very real risks in making this film, in Nepal and beyond. this is where they went:
1. kathmandu, nepal
tribhuvan international airport in kathmandu, nepal, acted as a film studio for everest. its domestic terminal was the filming location for scenes in which the expedition team arrived in nepal to prepare for their ascent. Aside from the airport, filming locations also included various streets and neighborhoods in Kathmandu and the city’s iconic Buddhist meditation site (known as a “stupa”), Boudha.
2. santa monica mountains
The film’s leads, Jake Gyllenhaal and Jason Clarke, play two of the expedition leaders (though only one will make it out of the expedition), trained for the film by hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains. they scaled a cliff and got lost in the process, wandering around until the sun began to set and meeting some hikers who helped them to safety. (Temperatures drop dangerously low at night and wildlife come out to hunt.)
3. everest base camp
The filmmakers were given permission to film in Nepal for a short period of time, part of which was spent at Everest Base Camp which serves as a launching pad for all climbers hoping to scale its summit. Filming on Everest lasted less than a month before the crew moved to the Dolomite mountains in Italy, but it was a tense exercise. during filming, an avalanche brought down several Sherpas who were delivering supplies to climbers preparing to reach the top. Fortunately, no one on the film crew was hurt, as Deadline reported at the time, but it goes to show the fragile conditions in which everest was made.
4. the dolomites
the italian mountain range served as a more accessible location for logistical and climatic reasons during the filming of everest. the actors underwent climbing and mountaineering training to prepare for their roles, which were both physical and artistic tasks. It allowed them to perform at their best while climbing the Italian Alps. the Italian portion of the shoot reportedly lasted six weeks, according to variety.
director kormakur hails from iceland, so it seems rational that he choose his homeland to shoot some of everest. variety reported that the film has moved to iceland for one month of its shooting schedule.
6. Rome, Italy
perhaps least exciting, everest also shot at the cinecittà studio in rome, italy. but it does mean that the cast and crew had time to meander through the city’s incredible history and perhaps soak in a bit of warmth before returning to the frigid temperatures of various mountain ranges.
everest whatever you call it, but the everest in kormakur’s movie is an amalgamation of more than one mountain range. On screen, it takes Italy, Nepal, Iceland, and the United States to equal the world’s tallest peak.
Editor’s Note: This article originally stated that Josh Brolin, not Jason Clarke, played one of the main expedition leaders in the film.
images: universal frames (6)