Beyond the Edge Movie Review
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".
Pooley intriguingly compares these men to the astronauts of the following decade, who like them used the latest technological advancements to venture into the unknown. And it's seriously stirring to see these men push themselves beyond the limits of what's thought to be humanly possible, both physically and mentally. As Hillary said, "It's not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves."
Cast & Crew
Director : Leanne Pooley
Producer : Matthew Metcalfe
Screenwriter : Leanne Pooley
Starring : Chad Moffitt, Sonam Sherpa, John Wraight, Joshua Rutter, Dan Musgrove, Erroll Shand, Phurenje Sherpa, Jimmy Kunsang