Movies about Mountains – 20 Best Mountain Films

Movies about mountains cover a wide variety of genres. From survival pictures telling the amazing adventures of mountaineers to thrillers to war cinema. We present 25 good cinema productions in which the most important theme is mountain trekking.

Mountains are a popular film theme that appears in cinema in various guises. Picturesque mountain ranges provide an extremely graceful setting for the adventures of the protagonists. It is a space of nature – wild and untamed, most often shown in opposition to culture (its sign is sometimes a city, for example). A mountain trek can be a metaphor for life’s difficult struggles and problem-solving. One of the most popular varieties of films about mountains are gripping stories of Himalayan mountaineers, usually based on fact. Such survivalist pictures can also take the form of disaster cinema. Snow blizzard or avalanche are very well-known motifs appearing in works with this theme. Usually the main message in this case can be described as the belief that the most important thing in life is to survive – no matter how harsh the circumstances we face.

Movies about mountains are also made within such a genre as war cinema. Many important battles in the history of the world took place precisely on mountainous terrain, which could both prove to be an ally and the worst enemy of the fighting soldiers. The mountain can also be shown in a completely different context – as a place of elevation, that is, a space singled out and intended for contact with the sacred, referring to the mystical realm. In such an image, mountains can function in religious cinema, but also dealing with universal philosophical themes.

The best movies about mountains

1.”For Whom the Bell Tolls”, 1943

Movies about mountains -For Whom the Bell Tolls

Sam Wood’s movie based on the famous novel by Ernest Hemingway is one of the classics that can be associated with a mountain setting. The picture is set during the Spanish Civil War in 1937. The main character of the story is an American Robert Jordan, a member of the troops fighting against the fascist faction of General Franco. The man is given a dangerous mission to carry out. Hidden in a mountain cave, he must wait through the night to blow up a bridge at dawn, thus cutting off the escape of the Francoists. In the task he is accompanied by a young girl, Maria, cruelly experienced during the war.

“For Whom the Bell Tolls” is a film that earned nine Oscar nominations, although in the end only Katina Paxinou, who played the supporting role of Pilar, received the statuette. The leading performances, however, were created by Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman. Here, the mountains fit in with Hemingway’s dark symbolism of man’s inherent cruelty, savage animal instincts and the setting of death.

2. “Five Days One Summer”, 1982

Mountain movies - Five Days One Summer

The film, the interesting plot of which is set in a mountainous setting. The story presented in “Five Days One Summer” takes place in the 1930s. Two tourists arrive in a Swiss mountain village. A mature man and his more than twenty years younger companion pretend to be married. However, the truth is quite different and quite shocking: Douglas is Kate’s uncle and also her lover. The couple decides to take several high-mountain trips. To do this, they hire a local guide, Johann, a handsome young man who quickly attracts the girl’s attention, and she is not indifferent to him either. Their joint expeditions thus take an interesting turn, especially after they discover the body of a mountaineer in the mountains. The man had disappeared just before his wedding decades earlier, and his faithful bride never married, waiting for his return. Starring Sean Connery, Betsy Brantley and Lambert Wilson.

3. “Scream of a Stone” (“Cerro Torre: Schrei aus Stein”), 1991

The Best movies about mountains - Scream of a Stone

Next on the list of mountain movies, “Scream of a Stone” is an international co-production directed by Werner Herzog. The picture is set in South American Patagonia, in Los Glaciares National Park, where an impressive 3133-meter-high granite spire rises. – Cerro Torre. Herzog’s film depicts the mountain climb to the summit by a group consisting of world champion sport climber Martin (Stefan Glowacz), renowned Himalayan climber Roccio (Vittorio Mezzogiorno) and reporter Ivan (Donald Sutherland) covering everything.

“Scream of a Stone” is a film typical of Herzog, in which the peculiar domentariness of the plot comes to the fore. This is because the director was looking for forms that are on the borderline between cinema and real life. Also the motif of the clash between man and the power of nature is a characteristic feature of this work. The movie was nominated for the Golden Lion.

4. “The K2”, 1991

The best films about mountains - The K2

Frank Roddam’s “The K2” is a thrilling story of a mountain climb to the second highest peak in the world – K2 in the Karakorum Mountains on the border of China and Pakistan. The main characters are amateur mountaineers: Taylor Brooks (Michael Biehn) is a prosecutor, and Harold Jameson (Matt Craven) is a physicist. Both decide to join a professional mountain expedition to K2, headed by billionaire Phillip Claiborne (Raymond J. Barry). They make an attempt to reach the summit against all the problems that arise along the way. The desire to meet the challenge becomes like an obsession that wins out over common sense and the instinct for self-preservation.

Roddam’s film shows the ambivalence of risky mountaineering, which on the one hand satisfies deep human desires, but on the other hand is a constant playing with life. The picture provokes questions about what role adrenaline addiction and extreme emotions play in competitive sports.

5. “Alive”, 1993

The best movies about climbing - Alive 1993

This movie about the mountains was based on fact. In 1972, a plane with rugby players on board on its way to Chile crashes in the Andes Mountains. The crash is survived by some of the passengers and crew, but the lack of aid, food, warm clothing and medicine worsens their situation hour by hour. Desperate survivors decide to commit an act of cannibalism – to feed on the remains of the dead. However, this is only the beginning of a dramatic struggle for survival.

Frank Marshall’s picture “Alive”, starring Ethan Hawke, Vincent Spano and Josh Hamilton, among others, is one of the most moving catastrophic films showing the destructive power of mountains. The picture raises very universal questions about how far we are willing to go to preserve life. It also shows that the urge to survive is the strongest of human instincts, enabling humans to overcome the most improbable obstacles.

6. “Seven Years in Tibet”, 1997

Films about climbing - Seven Years in Tibet

Films about mountains are not only stories about climbs, but also stories rich in philosophical meanings. Such is “Seven Years in Tibet”, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. The film is based on an event from the biography of the famous Austrian Himalayan climber Heinrich Harrer, who took part in the German expedition to Nanga Parbat in 1939. After the outbreak of war, he was interned in a British camp in India. In 1944 he escaped and made his way to Tibet, where he stayed for seven years – until 1952.

The character of Heinrich Harrer was played by Brad Pitt. “Seven Years in Tibet” shows the meeting of the Western world represented by the Austrian with the culture of the East. Harrer becomes a teacher of the young Dalai Lama. The relationship is mutually beneficial: the protagonist provides the Tibetan leader with information about European science, and himself receives in return a wealth of knowledge about human spirituality and emotions. Central to the film is the inner metamorphosis of the European, who learns anew to live in harmony with nature and its life-giving power.

7. “Cliffhanger”, 1993

Tom mountain movies - Cliffhanger

“Cliffhanger” by Renny Harlin is one of the mountain films that combine the conventions of adventure cinema and thriller. The picture is set in the Rocky Mountains. A group of rescuers gets a call from mountaineers allegedly in need of help. On the spot it turns out that they are dangerous terrorists who need someone to help them find the $100 million lost in the rocks and guide them through the mountains. The film stars Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker and Janine Turner, among others.

Breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains, impressive scenes realized in the mountain landscape, dynamic and surprising action are the main assets of the film “Cliffhanger”. The advantage of the picture is also the excellent plethora of actors. For lovers of films about mountains it is a classic of the genre.

8. “Vertical Limit”, 2000

Top mountain films - Vertical Limit

Martin Campbell’s film “Vertical Limit” is a good adventure film about mountains. A group of mountaineers embarks on an expedition to K2. Unfortunately, three people from the crew get trapped in an ice crevasse. The brother of the Himalayan climber in trouble, Peter, organizes a rescue operation. Together with a friend and a Canadian doctor, they embark on a dangerous journey. The role of Peter was played by Chris O’Donnell, while the courageous doctor was played by Polish star Izabella Scorupco.

“Vertical Limit” is watched with real pleasure. There is no shortage of stunning vistas, chilling scenes, and emotions that make the almost superhuman actions of the characters believable. This is cinema done well, with effective drama and an interesting plot.

9. “Touching the Void”, 2003

The 25 best movies about mountains - Touching the Void

Kevin Macdonald’s movie “Touching the Void” is an extremely moving and gripping story based on fact. The events depicted here take place in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. Two mountaineering friends Joe Simpson and Simon Yates set out together to conquer Siula Grande. During the climb, an accident occurs that tests the men’s friendship and morals, but also their physical and mental endurance.

“Touching the Void” is a great mountain movie, which is based on the book by the main character of these events Joe Simpson. The picture uses authentic statements of the participants of the expedition, which gives the whole thing an incredibly authentic dimension, close to the convention of a documentary. The leading roles were played by Brendad Mackey and Nicholas Aaron. The piece won a BAFTA statuette for best British film.

10. ”Nordwand”, 2008

25 best films about mountains - Nordwand

Another picture on our list of films about mountains – “Nordwand”, directed by Philipp Stolzl. This is also another item based on true events. The movie is set in 1936. German Nazi propaganda is staggering. The exceptional abilities of the Aryan race are to be confirmed by the conquest of one of the most difficult peaks of the Bernese Alps in Switzerland – the Eiger, and this from the side of its most dangerous north wall. Two German climbers, Toni Kurz (Benno Furmann) and Andi Hinterstoisser (Florian Lukas), set out to conquer the mountain. The Austrians do not want to be worse and send a pair of their representatives, who follow right behind the first daredevils. They are Willy Angerer (Simon Schwarz) and Edi Rainer (Georg Friedrich). The expedition is closely followed by the German media. Soon an optimistic climb turns into a dramatic life-and-death struggle.

The movie is an extremely realistic depiction of mountain climbing in extremely difficult conditions. The cinematography depicting monumental landscapes is very impressive, and the action holds a lot of suspense. Particularly impressive is the historical perspective of mountaineering outlined here. The protagonists of the 1930s seem downright defenseless in their clash with the powerful elements of nature, especially when compared to today’s professional Himalayan clothing and equipment.

The best mountain movies

11. ”Nanga Parbat”, 2010

The greatest movies about mountains - Nanga Parbat

Among good movies about the mountains, it is worth mentioning “Nanga Parbat” by German director Joseph Vilsmaier. The picture is based on a true story that took place in 1970. Two Messner brothers: Reinhold (Florian Stetter) and Gunter (Andreas Tobias) decide to climb the summit of Nanga Parbat on the western edge of the Himalayas together. During the expedition, the older of the siblings dies.

Interestingly, “Nanga Parbat” was met with mixed feelings from mountaineers, who accused the production of one-sidedly showing events from the perspective of survivor Reinhold. To this day, the mystery of Gunter’s death has not been explained, and the Himalayans involved present a completely different version….

12. ”The Wildest Dream”, 2010

The greatest films about mountains -The Wildest Dream

This movie, although a full-length documentary and not a feature, is sure to appeal to all lovers of cinema about mountains. It tells the highly fractious story of British Himalayan mountaineer George Mallory, who in 1924, along with his companion Andrew Irvin, disappeared while summiting Mount Everest. After 75 years, Mallory’s perfectly preserved body is found by mountaineer Condrad Anker. The Himalayan decides to climb Mount Everest again to explain the puzzling 1924 death. “The Wildest Dream” also reconstructs Mallory’s biography based on his surviving correspondence with his beloved wife. The letters are read by Ralph Finnes and Natasha Richardson.

In addition, the film uses archival photos and footage from the 1920s. The narrator in the documentary is Liam Neeson. Particularly interesting are the historical aspects of mountain climbing, which a hundred years ago looked very different from today’s expeditions.

13. “The Silence” (“Cisza”), 2010

Best mountaineering movies - The Silence

Polish film based on true events. “The Silence”, directed by Slawomir Pstrong, depicts the drama that happened in the Polish Tatra Mountains on January 28, 2003. At the time, a group of high school students with a geography teacher set out to climb Rysy. Unfortunately, an avalanche came down, causing the death of seven teenagers and one of the group’s guardians. The film stars great Polish actors Edyta Olszówka, Marcin Perchuć, Przemysław Sadowski, Mateusz Banasiuk, Antoni Królikowski and Olga Frycz.

“The Silence” is a production of the TVN station, made as part of the True Stories series, which presents a fictional record of authentic and at the same time particularly moving events. The story was reconstructed from the perspective of the mother of one of the tragically deceased high school students, which highlights the dramatic experiences of families facing unimaginable and unexpected loss.

14. “127 Hours”, 2010

Best mountaineering films - 127 hours

In the group of the best mountain movies can not miss Danny Boyle’s picture “127 Hours”. The plot was based on facts. The main character of the story is a young mountain hiker, Aaron Ralston. The man is on an expedition in Utah (the Great Basin and Great Plains of Colorado in the US) when he is unexpectedly crushed by a boulder in Canyonlands National Park. Trapped in the canyon, he spends more than five days (the titular 127 hours).

The picture is based on the autobiographical book “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”. The film meticulously analyzes what happens to a person in a situation of extreme danger and exhaustion of the body. It shows how unexplored and enormous capabilities the human mind has, which can become both the greatest enemy and the greatest ally.

15. ”A Lonely Place to Die”, 2011

25 best mountaineering movies - A Lonely Place to die

Next in our ranking of the best films about mountains – “A Lonely Place to Die”, directed by Julian Gilbey. The British production is not a classic climbing picture, but a gripping thriller with a very interesting plot. A group of climbers conquer the mountain slopes of Scotland. By chance they find a several-year-old girl hidden in an underground bunker. Terrified and starved child unfortunately does not speak English, so it is difficult to communicate with her. The group takes the girl with them, not suspecting that dangerous kidnappers are behind the mysterious incident. The role of the guide leading the mountaineers was played by Melissa George, while the other creations were created by Karel Roden, Sean Harris, Eamonn Walker and Alec Newman, among others.

In addition to compelling action, a theme of a mystery to be solved and suspenseful scenes of the kidnappers’ pursuit of the mountaineers, the film offers stunning shots of wild rocky landscapes. Nature is an ambivalent space here, which on the one hand can help the heroes hide, while on the other it triggers bloodthirsty instincts, and the scenery evolves from an idyllic landscape into a sinister terrain of death.

16. ”Force Majeure” (“Turist”), 2014

the 25 best mountain movies of all time - Force Majeure

A mountain film that combines psychological and survivalist cinema. ”Force Majeure” is an international co-production directed by Ruben Ostlund. A Swedish family with two children goes on vacation in the Alps. While they are having breakfast on the terrace of an exclusive hotel, an avalanche unexpectedly descends. The mother tries to save the children, while the father runs away. They all manage to emerge unscathed, but the extreme circumstances put the relationship between the couple to the test.

Starring here are Johannes Kuhnke and Lisa Loven Kongsli. ”Force Majeure” highlights an issue that doesn’t get as much exposure in many mountain productions, namely the fact that fighting the elements is not only a test for human determination of biological survival, but also a moral test.

17. ”Valley Uprising”, 2014

The Best mountain films of all time - Valley Uprising

“Valley Uprising”, directed by Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen, is an interesting documentary about the people who make up a specific subculture of climbers. A group living in campgrounds in Yosemite Valley practices climbing on local cliffs. At the same time, however, they disregard the rules of the nature park.

The movie is a highly engaging story of the entire subculture and its development over 50 years. It shows how high altitude climbing has changed during this time and the direction in which methods of overcoming rocky obstacles have evolved. Picturesque views further enhance the enjoyment of the screening.

18. “Everest”, 2015

The greatest mountaineering movies - Everest

The work of Baltasar Kormakur is already a classic of mountain movie. The picture was based on a true story that happened in 1996. A group of amateur climbers sets out with a guide to climb the highest peak in the world. Each member of the team has a different motivation for reaching the summit. Some wealthy and bored with everyday life are looking for exciting thrills, while others have been raising funds all their lives to be able to climb Everest. During the dangerous expedition, however, a snowstorm unleashes, leading to tragedy.

The role of guide Rob Hall in the film “Everest” is played by Jason Clarke. Everest is a very interestingly portrayed story. which provokes many questions. For the picture draws attention not only to the noble or often inexplicable motivations of mountaineers, which make them take on such dangerous challenges. It also exposes the quite selfish motives behind the extreme expedition. Nature, in turn, turns out here to be the element that always has the last word.

19. ”Meru”, 2015

The greatest mountaineering films - Meru

“Meru” directed by husband and wife team Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi is another documentary about mountains on our list. The film shows the story of an expedition of three Himalayan climbers to the eponymous Mount Meru in the Indian Himalayas. It is an account of the so-called “Shark’s Fin” expedition, in which Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk took part in 2011. It was the second, this time a successful attempt to attack the summit. After all, an earlier climb in 2008 ended in failure.

The movie gives a behind-the-scenes look at both the 2008 and 2011 expeditions. The first one could have ended tragically – there was an accident along the way, as a result of which one of the climbers was seriously injured, and a dangerous avalanche also came down. The picture won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival in the USA.

20. “The Climb” (”L’ascension”), 2017

25 must watch mountain movies - The Climb

“The Climb” is a French comedy directed by Ludovic Bernard about a crazy expedition to Mount Everest. A man who is very much in love decides to prove to his chosen Nadia the sincerity of his feelings and promises to climb the highest peak in the world for her. Soon, to the disbelief of those closest to him, he begins preparations for the climb. The planned expedition quickly attracts media attention. Interestingly, Climbing was based on the memoirs of Nadir Dendoune, who climbed Mount Everest as a total amateur. The film stars Ahmed Sylla and Alice Belaidi in lead roles.

21. ”The Mountain Between Us”, 2017

movies about mountain climbing - The Mountain between us

“The Mountain Between Us”, directed by Hany Abu-Assad, is a moving story based on the novel by Charles Martin. Alex and Ben are a pair of people who accidentally meet at the airport. When a flight is canceled due to a snowstorm, they both face a dilemma. He is a surgeon rushing to an important procedure, she is to get married the next day. So the desperate heroes charter an avionette, but during the trip the plane crashes in the Rocky Mountains and the pilot dies. Alex and Ben, relying only on themselves, have to make a fight for life in the wilderness. Starring in the lead roles are Kate Winselet and Idris Elba. The convention of surival cinema is combined here with a love drama. For the mountains will prove to be not only a test of survival for the couple, but will also reevaluate their previous life choices and goals.

22. ”Wind River”, 2017

survival movies - Wind River

This film is also set in a mountainous setting. Specifically, on the Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming, where a wildlife tracker accidentally finds the body of a murdered and raped girl. FBI agent Jane Banner is assigned to solve the case. However, since the officer is unfamiliar with local customs and finds it difficult to gain the trust of the community, she is assisted in the investigation by tracker Cory Lambert. The film stars Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner in lead roles.

Taylor Sheridan’s film interestingly shows the struggle on two fronts: the characters must simultaneously solve the mystery and fight against the unfavorable nature, which works against them. After all, a snowstorm is about to hit the area, which will obliterate all clues. The picture is reminiscent of the main themes of the director’s earlier films, especially Sicario (2015), where we also have a confrontation between the female and male perspectives of seeing the world and dealing with its order.

23. “The 12th Man” („Den 12. Men”), 2017

The best wilderness survival movies - The 12th man

This is one of the most interesting films about the mountains, in addition, based on authentic events. The Norwegian historical drama “The 12th Man” by Harald Zwart is set during World War II, in 1943. The British, as part of Operation Martin Red, send twelve trained Norwegian commandos to the Norwegian coast. Unfortunately, as a result of treachery, the Gestapo learns of the operation and they organize a manhunt, as a result of which eleven soldiers are killed. Only one member of the resistance escapes into the mountains and finds refuge in a cave. He intends to break through to neutral Sweden. However, it soon turns out that nature can be just as dangerous as armed men. The role of Jan Baalsrud, the twelfth of a group of freedom fighters, is played by Thomas Gullestad.

The film won two Amanda statuettes, awards from the Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund. The picture shows not only the clash between man and nature, but also realizes how important human solidarity is in trying situations. After all, it is thanks to the help of the inhabitants of small villages that the protagonist can continue his murderous journey. Attention is also drawn to the magnificent cinematography of the Norwegian outdoors: the stunning northern fjords.

24. “12 Strong”, 2018

Mountain movies list - 12 strong

This movie is an example of war cinema set in the mountains. Nicolai Fuglsig’s “12 Strong” tells the story of one of the US military units sent to Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The unit is commanded by Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth), who is given the mission to establish cooperation with the Northern Alliance operating on the ground fighting the Taliban. It is headed by Dostum (Navid Negahban).

“12 Strong” is an interesting take on the meeting of two disparate cultures in the name of fighting a common enemy. The local revolutionaries, who know the difficult, dangerous terrain of Afghanistan well, have the advantage here. The Mujahideen show the American soldiers how to survive in the dangerous mountainous terrain.

25. ”The Call of the Wild”, 2020

Mountain films list - The Call of the Wild

Chris Sanders’ movie is a screen adaptation of Jack London’s 1903 novel. The main character of the story is a dog Buck, a St. Bernard-Scottish Shepherd mix, who lives with his owner in sunny California. One day the friendly four-legged dog is abducted and sold. He ends up in snowy Alaska, at the height of the gold rush. Here his life completely changes. Buck has to work hard as a sled dog and adapt to the extremely harsh conditions of the harsh mountain climate.

London’s novel has been transferred to the screen several times. The 1935 adaptation starred Clark Gable, the 1972 version featured Charlton Heston, while the Sanders film starred Harrison Ford as John Thornton. Beautiful cinematography for the film was created by Janusz Kaminski, while the author of the atmospheric music is John Powell. The picture is an interesting item of adventure and family cinema, with a wise deep message. However, it is not a faithful screen adaptation of the original – the director significantly changes the ending of this story about a dog who discovered his original wild nature.

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