With a strikingly visual mix of dramatisation and documentary, this film brings real energy to the true story of the first successful ascent of Everest. Shot in crisp, expansive 3D, it takes viewers right up the mountain with climbers whose sheer tenacity can't help but be inspirational. So we can forgive New Zealand-based filmmaker Leanne Pooley for sometimes getting carried away with national pride.
In 1953, Everest was the last big challenge left on earth, and climbers were desperate to get to the summit. But 13 lives had been lost in 10 unsuccessful attempts. Now a British expedition sets out, led by England's John Hunt (played by John Wraight in the re-created scenes) and his friend and rival Edmund Hillary (Chad Moffitt) of New Zealand. These intrepid adventurers and their entourage of climbers, sherpas and porters face obstacles no one has ever surmounted as they ascended the mother of all mountains, and in the end it's Hillary and his sherpa Tenzig Norbay (Sonam Sherpa) who become the first men on top. Their accomplishment was announced on the same day that Elizabeth II was crowned queen, the dawn of a new era.
While telling the story with a clear, chronological narrative, Pooley mixes re-created scenes with a wealth of old footage, stills and newsreels in a way that's eerily seamless. Richard Bluck's 3D cinematography frequently takes the breath away with its 360-degree panoramas and a staggering sense both of the scale of the mountain and the harsh challenges these men faced. As they move forward, their progress is like a carefully planned military assault, advancing inch-by-inch as they take on each new impediment: unstable ice fields, deep crevasses, vertical drops, avalanches, shifting weather and the terrifying high-altitude "death zone".
Continue reading: Beyond the Edge Review
Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay from Nepal were two ambitious mountaineers whose only passion was to stand atop the highest land mass in the world, and in the late Spring of 1953, they achieved their dream by ascending Mount Everest. They may have inspired a generation of humanity who were finally beginning to see vast extent of human endeavour after years of tragedy with World War II, but the treacherous obstacles and dangers they faced are not as widely known as their triumphs. In those days, it was difficult to get a Himalayan expedition approved by the official overseers, so the fact that it took a once in a lifetime opportunity to motivate these individuals into achieving something that man has never managed before was truly staggering and should never be forgotten.
'Beyond The Edge' is an astonishing documentary about the details of Hillary and Norgay's voyage featuring original colour archival footage, photographs, interviews and dramatic re-enactments starring Chad Moffitt and Sonam Sherpa among others now in stunning 3D. It has been directed by Leanne Pooley ('The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls', 'The Promise', 'Haunting Douglas') who co-wrote the onscreen story with Matthew Metcalfe ('The Ferryman', 'Soldiers of Fortune', 'Relocated Mountains').