The book Into Thin Air is a riveting, on-the-mountain account of the calamitous disaster that claimed eight lives on Mt. Everest in 1996. Though the event it depicts is the same, that book was not credited as the source material for the new movie Everest — it is considered an original screenplay, based on cumulative research done by the writers and filmmakers. But Into Thin Air author went to an IMAX showing of the film recently and offered to the L.A. Times his review: A resounding thumbs down.
“It’s total bull,” Krakauer tells the newspaper. “Anyone who goes to that movie and wants a fact-based account should read Into Thin Air.” Krakauer, the author of six other books (including Into the Wild, which Sean Penn made into a movie in 2007), focuses his displeasure on a scene that depicts him (played in the film by actor Michael Kelly) refusing to help with a rescue attempt because he is snow blind. “I never had that conversation,” Krakauer tells the paper, also mentioning that House of Cards veteran Kelly never approached him for input on the story.
However, Krakauer is also honest in admitting that he regrets selling his rights to Hollywood so shortly after the book was published. Sony bought the property and quickly turned it into a TV movie of the same name, which has a 5.8 user rating on IMDb. Furthermore, in the aftermath of Into Thin Air‘s publication 18 years ago, it was Krakauer who was on the receiving end of criticism having to do with the true version of events during that fateful 48 hours on Everest.
Russian mountaineer Anatoli Boukreev — who is the person depicted in the film Everest asking Krakauer and others to help with rescue efforts — wrote a book called The Climb, published later in 1997, which contradicted aspects of Krakauer’s version. In the 1999 paperback version of Into Thin Air, Krakauer addressed the criticism of his book while defending himself.
Last week, Everest director Baltasar Kormákur talked to EW about the source material used for the film. While he elaborates on the never-before-heard audio tapes between the climbers and base camp that were accessed for the script, Kormákur also said, regarding Krakauer, “To be honest I wasn’t that interested in telling a story about a writer on a mountain. I’ve seen a lot of movies about writers. His book is a first-person account and there are a lot of things that he assumes or thought that happened that didn’t really happen. This is the story of a group of people who are going up this mountain and I wanted to be true to that.”