The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Vice for DESERET NEWS   
Monday, 12 July 2010 14:12

An air of sadness hangs over "The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest," and not just because it tells the tragic fate of some of the earliest expeditions to the Himalayan mountain range.

The enthralling documentary also features the final big-screen performance by actress Natasha Richardson. She, too, died tragically as a result of a mountain-related mishap (hers occurred while skiing).

Richardson is among those actors who give voice to various real-life figures in the film. Others include Ralph Fiennes, Hugh Dancy, Alan Rickman and Richardson's husband, Liam Neeson, who narrates.

The voices alone may be enough to get some audiences to see the movie, though there's more to it than just its British celebrity cachet.

Filmmaker Anthony Geffen takes his crews to Everest, the tallest peak on Earth. Among other things, he looks at the mystery surrounding the disappearance of mountaineers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine in 1924.

Mallory and Irvine were trying to become the first men to reach Everest's summit, but they were never seen again. Conrad Anker, a mountain-climbing expert, found Mallory's frozen remains during a 1999 Everest expedition.

Interestingly, both Anker and the film speculate about whether Mallory actually made it to Everest's top — and whether a fatal accident may have occurred on the way down.

(Both use lore about a missing photo of Mallory's wife as partial evidence for that theory.)

Geffen re-creates Anker's 1999 ascent, as well as the ill-fated Mallory-Irvine expedition. And he follows Anker on a separate 2007 trip to Everest — one in which he and British climber Leo Houlding try to retrace Mallory and Irvine's ascent, along Everest's North East Ridge Route.

This latter sequence is perhaps the film's best. Cinematographers Chris Openshaw and Ken Sauls and their camera crews show in vivid detail exactly how treacherous both expeditions really were.

"The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest" is rated PG and features brief but strong violent content (mountain-climbing falls and some disturbing imagery), as well as scattered profanity. Running time: 93 minutes.

Link to original article by Jeff Vice

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