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INDEFINITE

From space, Mount Everest is a pimple on the smooth curvature of the earth. For the surface-bound, it’s a towering obstacle and an irresistible challenge. Would-be climbers—there’s never a shortage—have to risk 30-below temperatures, howling winds, and air so thin and dry that you can actually break a rib just coughing. Simply preparing for the climb requires weeks of acclimatization: If you were to pluck a human being from sea level and place him on the summit, the sudden dip in oxygen would kill him in a matter of minutes. All these hazards are enumerated in Everest, the National Air & Space Museum’s latest IMAX film. The movie provides the first wide-screen view from the top of the world, thanks to the sturdy Sherpa guides who lugged the camera up five miles of mountainside; notably, among this 1996 international expedition is Jamling Tenzing Norgay, son of the Sherpa who accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary on the first successful ascent in 1953. Everest has moments of suspense worthy of an Indiana Jones flick. Ultimately, though, the film never really explains the climbers’ uphill motivations. Is it some severe streak of masochism? Or is it the same impulse that drives kids to scamper up trees and boast, “Hey, I can see your house from up here?” At 6 p.m. daily at the National Air & Space Museum’s Langley Theater, 6th & Independence Ave. SW. $5.50. (202) 357-1686. (Greg Kitsock)