‘Into Thin Air’ Author Jon Krakauer Rips ‘Everest’ Movie: ‘It’s Total Bull’

Krakauer is portrayed by Michael Kelly in the Universal movie based on a deadly 1996 blizzard

Jon Krakauer, the author of “Into Thin Air” which chronicles his true-life experience on Everest when eight climbers died in a storm, is not a fan of Universal’s “Everest.”

“It’s total bull,” Krakauer told the Los Angeles Times. “Anyone who goes to that movie and wants a fact-based account should read ‘Into Thin Air.'”

Krakauer is portrayed by Michael Kelly in the film, but Krakauer says he was never approached by the actor about his role. In fact, the writer is particularly sour about a scene in which Russian guide Anatoli Boukreev asks Krakauer to help with the rescue, but he responds that he can’t help because he is “snow blind.”

However, Krakauer said it didn’t happen.

“I never had that conversation,” Krakauer said. “Anatoli came to several tents, and not even sherpas could go out. I’m not saying I could have, or would have. What I’m saying is, no one came to my tent and asked.”

However, the director, Baltasar Kormákur, told the LA Times that no harm was intended with their scene and that it was added to illustrate the extreme helplessness of the climbers during the blizzard. 

“Our intention in the tent scene that Mr. Krakauer mentions was to illustrate how helpless people were and why they might not have been able to go out and rescue people …” said Kormákur in a reply sent to The Times through his publicist. “They were not malicious. They were helpless.”

“Into Thin Air” chronicles the events of 1996, in which eight climbers were caught in a blizzard on Mt. Everest, which many have called one of the biggest disasters in mountaineering history. Krakauer was present during the incident and published the memoir a year later.

“Everest” is not based on Krakauer’s book, for which he sold the rights to the book to Sony Pictures. It was made into a TV movie titled “Into Thin Air, Death on Everest” shortly after.

Jason Clarke in Everest

“People told me, ‘Movies never get made. Take the money. What do you have to lose?’ ” Krakauer told the Times. “I curse myself for selling it at all. What I learned from the TV movie was that dramatic films take dramatic license, and when you sign a document, you can do whatever you want with me. It wasn’t worth the money I got.”

Nick Heil, contributing editor for Outside magazine and author of “Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest’s Most Controversial Season” told TheWrap that the movie was “fairly accurate” and that “They’ve done a good job re-creating a sense of what it was actually like to be on Everest, telling a story that was full of complexities and not over-sensationalizing it so much that it felt like it strayed from actual events.”

“Everest” opens wide this Friday after having opened in select IMAX theaters on Sept. 18. It has since raked in $9.2 million, and is expected to gross somewhere in the mid-teens this weekend.


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