Dir.: Carl Woods; Documentary with Max Stainton-Parfitt, Candy Stainton-Parfitt, Martha Stainton, Oscar Stainton, Andrea Shipley; UK 2922, 86 min
There’s nothing extraordinary these days about trekking to Mount Everest’s base camp, everyone seems to be doing it. But Max Stainton-Parfitt is extraordinary. He undertook the endeavour – 5364 above sea level, by foot and on horseback, the first person ever to reach base camp suffering from cerebral palsy.
His valiant trek is the focus of this debut feature documentary from British director/DoP Carl Woods who combines interviews with Max’s mother Martha and his brother Oscar who reveal how little help the family got in supporting Max’s efforts.
Max is captured on his family’s home movies, a little boy who wanted to be a fireman when he grew up. In 1993 he was diagnosed and went for treatment in Hungary and Miami. After studying at Queen Marys in London, he became an investment banker in the City and is now a father, marrying his PA Candy in 2019.
Most of the feature is dedicated to the week long trek up the mountain in 2018, with Max (and Candy) twice at the point of giving up. Sherpas were very helpful although Rocky, his horse, did throw him off on one occasion, battling snow and ice and rickety bridges on the journey towards base camp where Max and Candy were whisked off by helicopter.
Max’s arrival is a real triumph given the tortuous climb in adverse weather conditions. Nothing could have prepared him for the ordeal given his physical limitations. In an interview afterwards Candy explains how the macho adventure was really a way for Max to prove himself to his City colleagues: “as a man who could be relied on in an emergency”.
My Everest doesn’t quite match up to expectations or Max’s indomitable prowess. Flashbacks are often clumsily inserted and too much time is spent on needless repetitions during the climb. Still, this a unique and worthwhile document of a struggle against the odds. AS
IN CINEMAS 27 APRIL 2023