Ever since I finished reading the book “Into Thin Air”, I’ve wanted to see the IMAX film Everest. In the latter parts of “Into Thin Air” the IMAX team is talked about at length – the IMAX team was one of the factors in helping to save many lives in the tragic and ill-fated ascent to the top of Everest.
Somehow I ended up waiting almost three months before seeing Everest – I’m sad that I didn’t see this film earlier! For those of you who are not familiar with IMAX films, I’ll give a brief description of an IMAX film. When you see a movie, it is usually printed on 35mm film, which is measure diagonally from the top left to the bottom right of a single frame. If you’re special, you’ll have a 70mm capable theatre around you that can play films printed on 70mm film – resulting in four times the resolution on the film. IMAX film is about twice the size of 70mm – quadrupling the resolution of the image of a 70mm film. So, as you can imagine, the image on an IMAX film is about as perfect as can be because it has 16 times as much resolution of the standard films you see.
All this higher resolution stuff doesn’t matter if your screen is the size of your home TV though. So, IMAX theatres are equipped with tremendous sized screens. For me there are two IMAX screens near me. One at an amusement park, Great America, and the other is at The Tech Museum in downtown San Jose. The Great America theatre is mediocre at best, wowing the audience with a large screen and some decent sound. But the theatre is old and not well kept. Everest was not showing at the Great America theatre, but luckily it was showing at The Tech. Everest was the first film I’ve ever seen at the Hackworth IMAX Dome Theatre and I am more than impressed – the theatre left me with my jaw on the floor. This theatre is built to impress and it is evident from the beginning with its introduction.
But, back to the film. Everest is a documentary and it is a well-written documentary following a team of people lead by David Breashears. Also on the team are Ed Viesturs, who not only summitted twice, but did it both without extra oxygen; Ed’s new wife, Paula; Jamling Tenzing Norgay (son of the guide to the first person to ever summit Everest); and Araceli Segarra an experience climber from Spain.
The film Everest and director Breashears take advantages of IMAX to the max. Because an IMAX film is projected onto a screen so large that it stretches from one end of your field of vision to the other there are a lot of things that a smart director can do with the film. Breashears amazes us with helicopter flights, climbing shots with the camera mounted looking down, crossings of ice glacier canyons with the camera pointed into the dark endless hole below, and many other things that would and can make a viewer sick to the stomach but also amaze them to the point of verbal “oohs” and “ahs”.
If you haven’t ever seen an IMAX film, or if you’ve seen one of the more mediocre ones, Don’t Miss Everest at your local IMAX theatre. This film is a treat for the senses.