Based on the bestselling book Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, this ambitious television film benefits immensely from a lengthy location shoot, Austrian alps effectively standing-in for Mt. Everest. It tells the true story of two 1996 expeditions, one led by the careful Rob Hall (played by Nathaniel Parker), the other by the gung-ho Scott Fisher (Peter Horton). Circumstances forced the teams to join forces, after which a succession of miscalculations followed by a savage storm lead to escalating disaster. Aided by a stark, pseudo-documentary style, a bold score by Lee Holdridge and terse narration by Christopher MacDonald as Krakauer, Into Thin Air: Death on Everest has an intense emotional impact; only the lack of epic, aerial photography betraying its TV movie status. Like Titanic (1997), it is in part about hubris leading to tragedy--"We're invincible!" Fisher boasts--as well as a powerful account of the toll Everest takes not just on the body but on the mind. The book inevitably goes much further into the psychology of "the completely irrational act" of climbing the world's highest mountain, but this gripping survival drama should appeal to admirers of both Scott of the Antarctic (1948) and Alive (1992). --Gary S. Dalkin
Release Date: May 22, 2001
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