Posted on Wednesday, June 16th, 2021 by
Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain above sea level, has been the subject of several movies and documentaries, including a star-studded but mostly forgettable 2015 film about the 1996 disaster that claimed eight lives. But Edge of Tomorrow and The Bourne Identity director Doug Liman is now set to make his own Mount Everest film – the not-exactly-creatively-titled Everest – and Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Moulin Rouge), Sam Heughan (Outlander), and Mark Strong (Green Lantern, Shazam!) have “climbed” aboard the upcoming project.
Sometime after he finishes, director Doug Liman will scale Everest – metaphorically, anyway. According to a press release announcing this project, Liman, who is a self-professed “climbing nut,” will “create a visceral experience for audiences, one that captures the exhilaration and terror of conquering Everest.”
This project’s period setting should help distinguish it from more modern stories about trying to scale the daunting peak. Take a look at the official synopsis to see what I mean.
1921. Everest remains the very last great unconquered challenge on earth. Many have sacrificed their sanity and often their lives in the attempt to reach its fabled summit. George Mallory (McGregor) is picked by the arrogant Arthur Hinks (Strong) of the Royal Geographic Society to scale the impossible. Following the First World War, the fading British empire is desperate for a restorative victory, but for Mallory and his rival, the eccentric Aussie George Finch (Heughan), the challenge of Everest has nothing to do with patriotism, instead it is a singular test of self.
Climbing without oxygen, to heights not even planes can reach, Mallory’s successive attempts to make the summit sees a challenge become an all-consuming obsession. It leads him to abandon his beloved wife and three children for months on end, give up his job, and push his body to the limits of human endurance. Everest becomes a very real monster for Mallory, his 45 degree climb to the peak is an inhuman mix of vertigo and nerve-shredding tension, requiring all of his fearlessness and audacity. It takes everything from him for reasons he can barely articulate: because it’s grander than him, it’s the last empty part of the map, and as he simply puts it – ‘because it’s there’.
I’m getting a real “Richard Dreyfuss’s character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind” or “Charlie Hunnam’s character in The Lost City of Z” vibe from that description, and I’m curious if Liman and this cast will be able to bring anything new to this exploration of obsession which hasn’t already been captured elsewhere.
But that synopsis also means that some high profile actress is once again going to be cast as the wife who sits by the phone while her husband rolls off to find himself while doing spectacularly dangerous things. Here’s hoping Oscar-nominated writer Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air) will be able to make that role as interesting as possible given the real-life nature of this story.
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