Most British heroes of the twentieth century are long forgotten. The story of George Leigh Mallory, however, still fascinates, probably because the question of whether or not he and his climbing partner, Sandy Irvine, reached the summit of Mount Everest before dying will almost certainly never be answered.
This film is superbly photographed, and cleverly intertwines the tale of Mallory and Irvine with that of modern-day climbers Conrad Anker and Leo Houlding, as they retrace - sometimes in period climbing gear - the route of the 1924 expedition. Anker and Houlding cannot, of course, prove that their predecessors made the summit, but they do show that it was possible for them to have free climbed a difficult precipice and thus could well have done so.
I would have given the film five (rather than four) stars, except that the balance of sound on the DVD, particularly during the first half of the film, spoiled my enjoyment. The music is far too loud, so much so that the narration is often nearly impossible to hear clearly, which in a documentary film is a fatal flaw. There were even times when I wished that there had been no background music whatsoever, so that what was being said could have been fully appreciated.
The bonus feature, a documentary about the making of the film, is also well worth watching, not least because it emphasises just what a challenge Everest remains, and also the achievements of all those involved with making the film in such an extreme environment.