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Return to the Mountain of the Dead

Published time: February 08, 2012 11:27
Edited time: February 08, 2012 17:38
Photo from Igor Dyatlov's archive

Photo from Igor Dyatlov's archive

Making movies is not unlike climbing mountains, they say. So the man behind Die Hard 2 and The Cliffhanger, Renny Harlin has undertaken quite a trek with his new thriller, based on the true story of a 1959 mysterious fatal accident in Russia’s Urals.

­The incident took place in February, as a group of young adventurers attempted to cross a perilous pass on skis. Seven men and two women, most of them students and graduates of the Ural Polytechnic Institute, were found dead on the east shoulder of the mountain Kholat Syakhi. In the local Mansi tongue, this means “Mountain of the Dead”.

Their ambitious route had been given the highest rating for danger and difficulty. Known as the Dyatlov Pass incident after the group’s leader Igor Dyatlov, the event has caused controversy ever since, with endless speculation that some sort of paranormal activity lay behind it.
Some of the bodies were found shoeless and dressed only in underwear. Others had fatal injuries; one woman was found to be missing her tongue. The clothing of four victims also had substantial levels of radiation.

Despite speculation that the indigenous Mansi people might have attacked the group, further investigation did not confirm this theory. No signs of hand-to-hand struggle, or other clues as to the cause of the accident were ever found.

The film’s producer, Russia’s leading industry film player Aleksandr Rodnyansky says that the action adventure from Hollywood helmer Harlin will revolve around a group of American students trying to untangle the obscure fatal incident of 50 years ago.

“It won’t be a blockbuster but a mystical thriller, an investigation,” Rodnyansky said. With a budget of $4,5 million, the producer added.