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4.4 out of 5 stars34
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 22 May 2010
A very well made documentary and a classic film, to be seen again and again. It really shows the hardships endured by the determined people of the 1953 expedition. It's made in the style of the era, with hardly any words from the protagonists, and the music can be slightly annoying at times, but all in all it's definitely worth watching. I would even say that it's the only Everest-related film worth having in one's video library.
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Climbing Everest today, does not seem to be quite the achievement it once was. Now when the brief weather window opens on the great mountain, hoards of climbers assemble at base camp to begin their assault on the summit. Satellite weather reports and the finest technical equipment assist them in this quest. But even so, it is still a magnificent achievement to reach the top. Those fortunate few can be indebted to those men that went before them into the unknown and blazed the trail.

In this landmark film we get a quick glimpse at earlier Everest expeditions, such as the famous Mallory and Irvine attempt in the twenties, when climbers had no idea of the affects of altitude on the human body. When the British expedition led by Sir John Hunt set out in 1953 they were better prepared. Although the earlier expedition took oxygen, it was less reliable. This time the equipment was of a higher standard altogether. Scenes of the testing and preparation of much of this equipment is included in the film. But even so the equipment looks incredibly dated by todays standards. Sir John Hunt ran things with a military precision, which is apt given that he was a serving officer in the British army. It was this planning and preparation that paved the way to success.

The incredible scale of Everest is shown in some wonderful photography. Some of the scenes taken in the great ice fall are still spectacular. There was even some film taken on the very high and inhospitable wind blown South Col. This must have required a huge physical effort to film. The sheer exhaustion of the climbers is also shown. In one scene a climber approaches the camp in such a state of fatigue that he has to sit down panting every 50 yards. The watcher is left in no doubt as to just how difficult it is to climb on the the very edge of where life can cling.

Despite the films age it has a wonderful freshness. The colour film has held up well, and the early wonder of exploration is a joy to behold. This is not just important archive film, but also great entertainment. It is the real deal! This film, like Frank Hurley's great record of Sir Ernest Shackleton's epic attempt to reach the South Pole in the film "South", is something so important that it should be considered a national treasure. Those that might see this film as just dated archive footage, might be overlooking the sheer will power and physical determination of the men to achieve their goal. Not just Hillary and Tenzing, but all the others of the expedition, who put in the hard graft to enable the summit push. It was a great team effort, and that comes across strongly. This was an age of cameraderie and there are lessons in the film for us all to learn from! A comfortable five stars.
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on 3 January 2011
I really enjoyed this DVD. I had to remind myself that it was not a movie but was the actual footage from the expedition. There must have been a huge amount of footage but what is presented here is excellent. If you have any interest in the subject then this is a must.
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on 3 March 2011
i really enjoyed this dvd. it has a quality all of its own time, and culture, and although this might translate as typically stiff upper lip, boys own derring do to todays modern audience (used to every gurning moan and emotional outpouring as seen in our saturated realty TV media) i really felt that it gave me something of a window into the past of my grandparents, and the spirit in which personal and physical challenges were overcome. also the scenery is fascinating especially the sight of the pristine slopes of Everest, cos recent footage and photos i've seen suggest its become something of a dump.
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on 17 July 2013
I was prompted to buy this DVD after reading Harriet Tuckey's book* about her father Griffith Pugh, the physiologist without whom Everest would not have been conquered on this occasion. In her book Tuckey makes the point that her father's role in the endeavour is barely mentioned, either in this film or in Hunt's book about the expedition. Where he does appear in the film, he is made to look by turns rather foolish or merely an impediment to the main event. In fact, he designed the clothes, boots, tents, stoves; he formulated the party's diet; it was he who understood and insisted upon the importance of drinking and remaining hydrated at high altitude; and most critically, it was he who understood that if the goal was to be achieved, then oxygen would have to be used, comparing two different supply systems and quantifying the volume of gas needed to get to the summit (until now many British climbers shunned oxygen, as they felt its use to be 'ungentlemanly').

But apart from that... it's a great film. The music tends to be rather overdramatic most of the time (is this really by the same composer who gave us Jamaican Rumba? Yes, it is!), the commentary reminds me rather of Harry Enfield's spoof public information character Mr Grayson, and the ending is rather abrupt. But the images and storyline are dramatic, and the film is a wonderful record of one of the 20th Century's greatest achievements.

*Everest - The First Ascent: the untold story of Griffith Pugh, the man who made it possible
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on 23 May 2011
I have to say I loved this movie, the previous reviews said it all. However:
I just could not stand the music.... I actually had to stop three times as I just could not listen to it anymore, it became so annoying. The music supposed to create this dramatic background for the action, but I felt that the most intense parts were actually when there was no music and I could really feel like being a part of the action, being there on the white slopes, gasping for oxygen.
It's one of the best Everest movies I've ever seen, no doubt everyone who is interested in climbing should have this DVD in their collection.
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on 11 January 2006
While the archive footage and stills may have some appeal for those new to the Everest genre, this film adds little to the story. The appeal of a commentary by one of Mallory's descendants is offset by her insistent monotone. With the backing track - surely a cure for insomnia - this collection has little appeal. The inclusion on the DVD of an index of 'Lost Climbers' is more of a list of events, rather than details of the unfortunates who died or went missing on the hill. Pictures of the climbers concerned would have added some value.
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on 12 May 2011
This film is very dated by today's standards, especially the commentary. However it's still good to watch the sterling achievement of Hillary and Tenzing even though a sneaky part of me believes that Mallory and Irvine might have been the first to reach the summit back in the 1920's. There is also a slight feeling of wistfulness (on my part) of what life was like back in 1953 and what hopes we had for the future.
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on 25 February 2011
It's not just the event that is historic - the documentary is historic too. It captures a different time not just for Everest but for Britain - and the world for that matter.

The film is entirely in colour and is a real eye opener to anyone with even the slightest mountaineering knowledge. It would not be wasted on non-climbers either to whom it's 75 mins is probably not dis-interesting nor repetitive. I will watch this again, just to remind myself of the real reasons behind mountaineering and of how bold our pre-decessors were - there is even some rare footage of the 1924 expedition - albeit seconds.

The documentary is literally 98% original footage - a lot must have been shot on the expedition and the commentary is from 1953 with members of the exped adding their thoughts but only as a commentary. There is absolutely no space filler material at all.
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As a mountaineering enthusiast it is surprising that I had never seen this, but I am pleased that I now have, to coincide with the 60th Anniversary of the 1953 Ascent. Considering the difficulties, the photography is outstanding. This is matched by the commentary and the contributions of the main participants. Can you imagine carrying packs weighing between 50 and 60 pounds within reach of the summit? The achievement was a celebration of man's determination against the odds. Tensing and Hilary summited but the part in that achievement of the other members of the team is shown. I would recommend this to anyone, not only mountaineering types. It is a classic at a bargain price.
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