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amazing storyline I will definitely recommend it
Extremely interesting, well-shot, and well-edited documentary, as well as meditative piece proximately about Sherpas and Mt. Everest expeditions, but more broadly (and interestingly) about choices, family, spirituality/religion and the collision of the Western/materlialistic world with ancient traditions and agrarian lifestyles in the rugged Himalayas.
- A breathtaking tale of Sherpa vs. the Western world -
Jennifer Peedom's Sherpa is successfully encapsulated early in the film: Sherpas are an ethnic group living in the Himalayas, not simply guides helping Western climbers summit Everest.
The theater briefly descended into whispers when this was explained, and I could relate because for a long time I thought "Sherpa" was synonymous with the words mountain guide too. The fact that Everest is such a visible and familiar endeavour in Western popular culture, while little is known about the people who assume much of the work and risk, is what's at play in Sherpa. The film brilliantly delves into the relationship between the guides and the adventure tourism industry.
It was hard to watch Sherpa without thinking of my own superficial relationship to mountaineering and Everest... and my many misconceptions. As a teenager I spent a week in Nepal with a view of the Himalayas (from a great distance). Those mountains are my most significant memory.
During the 2014 climbing season, I worked at a rock climbing gym with a colleague who was a Sherpa and had worked on Everest. I only discovered that this guy had been an Everest guide when I lazily spied him watching an amateur video of people actually on the mountain. I asked him about it and he said that one of the climbers was his cousin, and of course my colleague was the one behind the camera. He'd been planning to work the 2015 season when the avalanche seen in Sherpa derailed his plans. Sadly, a friend was one of the 16 guides caught in the avalanche of snow.
The film largely follows Phurba Tashi, a Sherpa mountaineer who is setting out as the head guide of an Everest expedition company. This is his 22nd ascent of the tallest mountain in the world. He already holds the record for the most ascents of mountains over eight thousand meters, of which most are in the Himalaya Mountain Range. The number is significant because above that height is the "death zone" where there isn't enough oxygen to support human life.
The company Tashi works for is run by Russell Brice who had cancelled an expedition to summit Everest in the 2012 climbing season due to concerns about the conditions. He was forced to recall his guides and his clients who had paid significant amounts of money for the opportunity.
The play of risk and reward is an ongoing theme in the film. Filming took place just one year after widely reported fist fights broke out between a group of guides and European climbers. Matters are further complicated when we learn that Sherpa guides often assume far more risk by making repeated trips between camps to provide the supplies for the climbers who are paying exorbitant amounts of money - at times more than $75,000 USD.
A memorable scene involves Sherpas carrying a large flat screen tv into basecamp among other recreational items for use by clients.
What is simultaneously compelling and harrowing about the film is that shooting was taking place when an avalanche killed 16 Sherpa guides as they were stocking advanced camps. The incident was the most deadly event on the mountain in its history until the 2015 earthquake that devastated Nepal.
The incident is foreshadowed early in the film. The audience knows it's coming while the guides and climbers do not. It was impossible to divorce myself from the very real suspense that the looming avalanche creates, exacerbated by how intimately Sherpa documents its characters.
The first half of the movie is devoted to beautiful cinematography of the mountain and climbing with helmet mounted cameras of climbers navigating ladders suspended over truly treacherous crevasses. Then the avalanche happens and the film very quickly steps up the intimacy.
It's a somber turn that rightly highlights the disproportionate dangers that the Sherpas undertake for little reward and no glory.
Sherpa is awesome; it's engaging, the cinematography is awe-inspiring and it's moving. It's also a great portrait of the forces at play in the tourism industry of Everest, the Himalayan culture and the skewed perspectives that are popularly held.
This review was first published on Narrative Muse, http://www.narrativemuse.co/movies/sherpa, and was written Sam Behrend. Narrative Muse curates the best books and movies by and about women and non-binary folk on our website http://narrativemuse.co and our social media channels.
An awe-inspiring documentary about the real heroes of Everest, the Sherpas - not the spoiled rich guys who just want to cross something off their bucket list.
Excellent documentary about the wizen-hearted, cold-blooded prick western people.
A stunningly shot and emotionally engaging Australian backed documentary, the BAFTA nominated Sherpa as directed by filmmaker to watch Jennifer Peedom and her willing crew is one of the years must see docos as well as must see films perse thanks to its well-constructed looked at both the almost indescribable appeal of climbing the world's most famous mountain Everest and the oft-unsung heroes of the successful climbs, the Sherpas.
Focusing her attention on Phurba Tashi Sherpa who at the time of filming this documentary had successfully climbed to the Everest peak over 20 times, Peedom captures some otherworldly and magnificent images of a landscape filled with beauty, allurement and potential death and backed by the ever good musical ruminations of acclaimed Animal Kingdom and The Rover scorer Antony Partos, Sherpa has a polish and sheen not often found in home-grown documentaries or documentaries of any heritage at that matter and from the film's opening minutes through to its last important stanza Sherpa will gripe the viewer and not let go.
Becoming one of those film crews that were there at the right place and at the right time, Sherpa's initial focus shifts as the film draws on and tragedy strikes the mountain, a tragedy that in many ways reshaped the way business was done and is to be done on the mountain that draws so many people to it each year often at exorbitant prices.
Sherpa's who have long been the smiling and gracious whipping boys to Everest's various tourists and wannabe heroes, are here given airtime from both the new to the old (an interesting aspect to the film is the look back at Sherpa Tenzing Norgay) and Peedom and her team shine a light on these often fearless climbers and guides that would risk their lives dozens of times per season to make sure those that have paid to have their experience are given every chance conceivable to make the trek successfully, even if some of the Sherpas here aren't overly affable.
Hot off the heels of the good if not great Everest feature from last year, Sherpa is an outstanding documentary that is one of the highlights of Australia's recent output in the medium that includes the must see All This Mayhem and That Sugar Film and Peedom has once again marked herself down as a real talent to watch, while those adventurers looking for an insightful look at one of the world's natural wonders owe it to themselves to watch this eye opening film experience.
4 1/2 yaks out of 5
Watchable movie about sherpas taking a climbing season hostage over an accident that killed 16 fellow climbers.
Interesting documentary highlighting the inequity in the pay scale and risk between the Sherpas, Western climbers, and the Nepalese government. Basically, the sherpas take all the risk and get the lowest share of the profits while the government takes the lion's share of the profit. Not unlike coal miners, oil rig workers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and countless other dangerous jobs whereby the actual workers taking the risk of potentially dying on the job are the least paid.
Very good documentary.
Documentary about turists paying lots of money to climb the tallest mountain in the world.
The Nepalese inhabitants are known for being good at dealing with the extreme contiditions and Sherpas are experts. They are rented in to climb with the turists, making money to feed their families.
We follow an expedition where an accident take lives. The bonds between the Sherpas and the turists are breaking, who are the ones to blame? Sherpas are praying to their mountain Gods, but the turists with their money invested want to go on - even with the angry mountain raging.
OK film, with some great shots. It felt a bit long and the interest fell gradually for me.
5.5 out of 10 icefalls.