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Sherpa

with Phurba Tashi Sherpa, Ed Douglas, Russell Brice, Karma Doma Sherpa

Written and Directed by Jennifer Peedom
website: http://sherpafilm.com/

IN SHORT: nnn. [Not Rated .96 minutes]

English, Sherpa, Nepali dialogue

[[A fight on Everest? It seemed incredible. But in 2013 news channels around the world reported an ugly brawl at 21,000 ft as European climbers fled a mob of angry Sherpas. In 1953, New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay had reached the summit in a spirit of co-operation and brave optimism. Now climbers and Sherpas were trading insults – even blows. What had happened to the happy, smiling Sherpas and their dedication in getting foreigners to the top of the mountain they hold so sacred? Determined to explore what was going on, the filmmakers set out to make a film of the 2014 Everest climbing season, from the Sherpas' point of view. Instead, they captured a tragedy that would change Everest forever. At 6.45am on 18th April, 2014, a 14 million ton block of ice crashed down onto the climbing route through the Khumbu Icefall, killing 16 Sherpas. It was the worst tragedy in the history of Everest. The disaster provoked a drastic reappraisal about the role of the Sherpas in the Everest industry. SHERPA, tells the story of how, in the face of fierce opposition, the Sherpas united in grief and anger to reclaim the mountain they call Chomolungma.a Tibetian word meaning "mother goddess of the universe" The mountain isalled Sagarmatha in Nepal. It means "goddess of the sky"]]

A film from the Sherpa POV? Not to my eyes; I suspected the film was to document the lunatic whose goal was to jump off the top of Everest in a gliding suit, and film his trip down and around the mountain with a GoPRO camera on his forehead. Then I discovered that writer/ director Jennifer Peedom has done two earlier films about the Sherpa people and Mount Everest -- "Miracle on Everest" (2007) and "The Sherpa's Burden" (2004) [NOTE: I HAVE TO DOAN IMDB SEARCH FOR INFO ABOUT THESE FILMS. INFO HERE WILL CHANGE] -- so her motives are pure. There would be a <g> after that last sentence if this film were a comedy. It is not.

Climbing to top of Nepal's Mount Everest -- the highest mountain top in the world (just in case they don't teach that stuff in the Common Core curriculum) was a very big deal when Edmund Hillary reached the summit on May 29, 1953, as part of a British expedition led by Colonel John Hunt and guided up the mountain by a Nepalese Sherpa called Tenzing Norgay. As we learn from Jennifer Peedom's most excellent film Sherpa, the Sherpa people tend to smile a lot and keep their emotions bottled up . . . else Norgay would have rightfully made the claim to be the first human to reach the summit of Everest while Hillary dragged him from press conference to press conference like a Nepalese Steppin' Fetchit seen in old footage edited into this film (That's not exactly a proper comparison but the contextual idea is right on the money) . I emphasize the word human because historical texts here in the West, at least the ones I studied out of 40-something years ago, tend to deprecate the contributions of non-Westerners (ie. non-White people). Interviews with Norgay's [wife and] children dot this film. I don't remember them complaining as much about their father's legacy as they should. But then, their portions of this film give breathing room to the real facts of the matter;

Twenty five Sherpa men heading up the mountain to stock the four base camps used by the rich Westerners who come to climb Chomolungma each Spring, looked up to see a 14 million ton block of ice come down on their heads. Sixteen were killed. Sherpa mixes "real" (ie. Western) mountain climbers in with the Sherpa in this telling; the images you see through their GoPRO cameras may be from the actual expedition . . . or maybe not. [better to think so it makes a better film]

An expedition to the summit, climbing through what is called the Khumbu Icefall on April 18, 2014

 

As Igoogled through all the newsreports of the tragedy that remain online, aspects of this film's story vary from the reported facts that I wouldn't term this film a "documentary." There is enough fiction to make this seeming documentary-like film into a movie -- long time readers of this site already know our definitions of the terms -- and a great movie it is.

Those that have read anything on this site since we began 20+ years ago knw we don't throw those words around lightly. So I will write it again . . . I will say it again . . .Sherpa is a great movie.

 

Sagarmatha in Nepal. It means goddess of the sky

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