Beyond the Edge (2014)

May 15th, 2014
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director: Leanne Pooley

Writers; Leanne Pooley and Matthew Metcalfe

Cast: Chad Moffitt, Sonam Sherpa, John Wraight, Daniel Musgrove

100min   Documentary

If you’ve ever wanted to climb Mount Everest, Leanne Pooley’s documentary is a chance to experience at first hand the thrill and danger that many have gone through to conquer the summit since that first fatal attempt back in 1924.  Re-enacting the incredible journey to the top, using a skilful blend of archival footage and interviews, Pooley frames her documentary in its historical post-war context, recreating the world as it was sixties years ago, with a well-thought out introduction to the backgrounds and personalities of the individual climbers and the equipment used in the expedition organised by leader, Colonel John Hunt.

We all know that New-Zealander and Bee-keeper, Sir Edmund Hillary and sherpa, Tenzing Norgay were the first men to stand on the summit (the iconic image is of Tenzing), but this documentary shows how it happened and sheds light on the particular conditions prevailing at the time. One of the strengths here is the lack of narration other than the words of the expedition team. Using actors (with climbing training) to portray the real-life mountaineers and rarely seen footage amassed from archival interviews and photos, the doc takes us, step by step, as Hillary and Tenzing battle upwards conveying their numerous setbacks. Illustrating their strength of personality and extraordinary motivation to form a successful team, it shows how not only as climbers but also as men, these two remarkable people stood out from the crowd and persevered on an almost impossible mission.

In user-friendly 3D technology, (incorporating 16mm colour footage and 35mm stills) the dazzling camera-shots lean over dangerous precipices, killer ravines and terrifying crevices to share the mind-blowing experience of these fearless men. Climbing gear has an authentic feel and Pooley explains the science and practicalities of mountaineering and human endurance. She also explores the human psyche with universal appeal in this brave doc that flags up Hilary’s legendary words: “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” MT

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