Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary's monumental and historical ascent of Mt. Everest in 1953 - an event that stunned the world and defined a nation.Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary's monumental and historical ascent of Mt. Everest in 1953 - an event that stunned the world and defined a nation.Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary's monumental and historical ascent of Mt. Everest in 1953 - an event that stunned the world and defined a nation.
I don't know about you, but climbing a thousand feet up a hill is not my idea of fun, much less going over 29,000 feet to the summit of Mt. Everest as Edmund Hillary did heroically in 1953. Writer/director Leanne Pooley in Beyond the Edge has done the next best thing, thrilling me with old footage and expert re-enactment to help me understand the heroics necessary to pull off that feat.
In other words, her Beyond the Edge is a successful documentary that doesn't rely on fake sets and swelling orchestration to tell the story of Col. John Hunt's (John Wraight) expedition, in which Hillary (Chad Moffitt) is given the opportunity to be the first human to reach the summit with the help of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay (Sonam Sherpa). Although this doc doesn't have the suspense of Touching the Void, it is a realistic rendering in the spirit of Sir Ernest Shackelton's doomed Antarctica expedition told in The Endurance.
While Hillary has a hairy moment of slipping over an edge only to be saved by Tenzing, the rest is an authentic depiction of slow ascent with the usual challenges of rapidly-declining oxygen and impending monsoons.
It's the measured pace I like, the strategizing and assessing, done with the cool you'd expect from seasoned climbers, some of whom have been disciplined military officers. The intercutting with shots from the past and narration by Hillary, his son, Hunt, and George Lowe, among others, works seamlessly to give you the feeling you're carrying a backpack.
As for the 3-D, I'm not always a fan, but here it works well enough not to be distracting. A few bees enter and exit the frame to no spectacular effect, but otherwise the experience is enhanced by the semblance of reality. As for the ambition and ego necessary to make it to the top, Hillary expressed it well:
"No one remembers who climbed Mount Everest the second time."
- Jul 21, 2014