25 November 2015 | 2:17 pm | Sam Hobson

"Sherpa is a film that looks gorgeous until it's truly horrifying."

Unaware she was about to capture the infamous tragedy that befell 16 Sherpas on Everest in April 2014, Australian documentarian Jennifer Peedom's documentary begins as a warm, thoughtful look into the life of a Sherpa man about to break the world record for summits of Everest, and yet, perhaps without the document of this film, would never have been widely known for it.

Peedom's considerable skill as a nature documentarian captivates in the film's pre-tragedy runtime: a spoil of fluid, effortless and often impossible shots lilting and dancing among the small Nepalese village children, drone shots that flit over deep ice crevasses, and sumptuous takes of rural, altitudinous Nepalese lives, loves, and spiritualism.

After the devastating icefall, the film becomes a fascinating and ultimately quite damning document of a Sherpa uprising, and an examination of the compellability of a paid, exploited people who have no choice but to depend on the meagre money they make doing work no-one, much less their own government, will properly support.

Less the festishistic exploration of Everest's perils that many a film on the topic recently has been, and far more a refreshing inversion that exposes the true cost of such a luxury pursuit, Sherpa is a film that looks gorgeous until it's truly horrifying, and then is horrifying again for reasons that bring to light the darker depths of human self-interest.

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