Spoiler Exclusive: Everest Director Baltasar Kormakur on a Controversial Death

Spoiler Exclusive: Everest Director Baltasar Kormakur on a Controversial Death.

Everest filmmaker Baltasar Kormakur talks about the death of one of the film’s characters

This past weekend, Universal Pictures released Baltasar Kormakur’s Everest, a stirring recounting of a group of climbers struck by an unexpected storm while climbing to the infamous mountain peak, in select cities in IMAX 3D and other large formats where it scored an impressive $7.5 million over the weekend. 

If you happened to see Everest this weekend, then you may be curious about the death of one of the characters and how it was portrayed in the film. If you haven’t seen Everest and don’t know the story on which it’s based or who survived and who didn’t survive, then read no further because…


One of the most powerful moments of the film is when John Hawke’s postman Doug Hansen is making his second attempt to fulfill his dream of reaching the peak of Everest when tragedy strikes. Jason Clarke’s Rob Hall ends up going back to the summit to help Doug achieve that goal, which ends up being both their undoing, because they’re trapped on a high ridge when the storm hits them. Doug, possibly feeling guilty about potentially killing them both, unhooks himself from Rob (without him realizing it) and steps off the ledge to his death in hopes it will allow Rob to save himself. After watching this scene, you may realize that neither of the men portrayed was alive to tell what happened so there’s no way of knowing if Doug was blown off the ledge or if he did send himself to his own death.

Because of this, we were wondering how Kormakur determined that Doug might have committed suicide, which could be considered controversial among those who know the story. We asked Kormakur and he told us about how he was actually able to hear the transmissions on the day of the event between Rob and basecamp for himself: 

I went to New Zealand to meet Jan and (Rob’s) daughter Sarah,” he told ComingSoon.net a few weeks back. “We listened to the tapes with Helen Wilton, Emily Watson’s character. They hadn’t listened for 18 years. It’s very traumatic and an incredible experience, sitting there and listening to this. A lot of the radio talk was recorded that day, and a lot of the dialogue is based very truly on what went on between base camp and on top of the mountain. This is a version that after reading all these books and going through everything and listening to the tapes and hearing what Rob said is the closest we could get.

“I sent this to Guy Cotter, who was there and was part of the rescue team and had been there the year before. He said that this was probably the most likely scenario that could’ve happened because they were on top of Hillary Step, and there’s no way that Rob would’ve left him on Hillary Step to go because he couldn’t have climbed up Hilary Step again. The next thing, he’s probably out of oxygen. He can’t carry him over the southeast ridge. Assuming he went to get oxygen, and somewhere along the way, because when he talked to them and he had gotten to the south ridge, he said “Doug is gone.” So this is the most likely version that we could come to. Like there was a misunderstanding and he’s out of it. There were versions where he kind of walked himself off the mountain to let Rob free, but I felt that was too much of a movie kind of version of it that he does it so Rob can get down. I think that’s something you’re going to see in a movie, but not in reality, so yeah, there could be a controversy, but nobody can really say if it happened that way or not. But I have the A and the B, but the C is a little questionable. We know that he was totally out of it, and it’s very clear from the radio calls that Doug couldn’t move anymore.”

So there you have it. Kormakur might not have been on Mount Everest on that faithful day in 1996, but he did a lot of extra research and came up with the most viable option.

Everest is now playing in IMAX and other large format 3D screens and will expand nationwide on Friday, September 25.






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