EVEREST hits theaters today and will likely require many viewers to white knuckle their sears with some 3D and IMAX shots of the climbers atop the tallest peak in the world. Mountains have always represented a challenge for filmmakers wanting to give us some thrills on the big screen and yet there are countless films set predominantly on peaks, cliffs, and dizzying heights. This list represents the ten best films set on mountains or about mountain climbing. If your favorite didn't make the cut, feel free to let us know in the talk backs below.
Directed by Sidney Pollack from a screenplay co-written by John Milius, JEREMIAH JOHNSON is a Western that follows the titular mountain main and trapper based on an actual historical figure. The film is action-packed and has some spectacular scenes filmed in the mountains of Utah, star Robert Redford's home. The film is more than just a mountain movie but does show what life is like living amongst the hills of the American West.
Another film about a mountain man, SHOOT TO KILL pairs up the LETHAL WEAPON-esque duo of Sidney Poitier and Tom Berenger. A box office and critical hit, SHOOT TO KILL comes from director Roger Spotiswoode and has some pretty intense action scenes. Not all of them are set on a mountain, but the movie does make a great use of the natural settings and cliffs perfect for tossing villains from.
GOLDENEYE director Martin Campbell's film is not a great movie, but it is a pulpy action flick with some ridiculous sequences at dizzying heights. The use of green screen is a bit excessive in this movie, but Chris O'Donnell and Robin Tunney are pretty good as the film's heroes.
Probably one of the most underseen films on this list, this 1959 Disney film follows a young Swiss boy as he attempts to climb the mountain that killed his father. It is a bit less full of testosterone as some of the contemporary films on this list but it absolutely will either give you a fear of heights or make you want to go climbing.
This 2008 German film tells the tale of the 1936 attempt by competing German and Austrian climbers to scale Eiger's north face. If you are hoping for a film about the winter coat manufacturer, you will be disappointed. But, if you want a thrilling historical drama, this is the movie for you.
Hey, it's Eiger again! Only this time, Clint Eastwood is spitting one liners and courting women while mentioning pancakes. Eastwood plays a top assassin and mountaineer, a pairing rarely put on the big screen. While this movie does a pisspoor job of echoing the James Bond films, it does offer a goofy and over-the-top film that sticks out as one of the weirdest Eastwood films of all time.
Released very close to another, more popular mountain climbing film, K2 was not a box office or critical success but still features some of the all time best climbing scenes put to film. The music is cheesy and the dialogue is over the top, but K2 still will make you hold your breath in anticipation as you watch Michael Biehn and Matt Craven play the first two Americans to scale the second highest mountain on Earth.
None of the individuals who survived the tragic crash that inspired ALIVE voluntarily climbed the Andes mountain they found themselves in, but the movie does offer some inspiring and terrifying scenes of what it takes to survive some of the highest peaks in the world with minimal equipment and gear. A hard movie to watch, ALIVE is also one of the most profoundly moving.
One of the greatest documentaries of all time, TOUCHING THE VOID blends interviews with reenactment footage, something that usually feels a bit cheesy but works magnificently in this movie. The acting here may not be done by big name Hollywood stars but the performances from Brendan Mackey, Nicholas Aaron and Ollie Ryall are some of the most unheralded in movie history.
This Sylvester Stallone action epic is absolutely one of the most fun movies of Sly's career and one of the best flicks of the 1990s. John Lithgow is one of the most memorable movie bad guys of all time with some great one-liners, but it is the astounding opening sequence climbing scene and all the ones that follow that earns this film the top spot on our list.