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A haunting and poignant documentary
on 4 August 2011
If you enjoyed 'Touching the Void (2003)', 'The Beckoning Silence (2007)' or 'The Endurance (2000)', then you will love this. Narrated by Liam Neeson and featuring the voices of Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson and Alan Rickman, this tells the story of George Mallory and Sandy Irvine's ill-fated conquest of Everest in 1924.
The story is told through the eyes of top American Mountaineer Conrad Anker, who in 1999 discovered the body of George Mallory on Everest. He, along with his climbing partner Leo Houlding, are shown attempting to recreate Mallory's route to the peak, starting from Tibet in the north. This involved scaling a dangerous rock formation near the top, the 'Second Step', in the way Mallory and Irving would have had to have done it in 1924, without the aid of the metal ladder attached by Chinese climbers in 1975.
As you would expect the photography is spectacular and the modern day scenes are exhilarating and majestic but it is the account of Mallory's life, featuring rare film footage from the 1924 expedition, that really takes this documentary to the heights. Mallory's letters, read by Ralph Fiennes, show him to be a fascinating character and a deeply passionate man. Although he was obsessed with Everest he was totally devoted to his wife Ruth. The readings of the couple's correspondence are very touching, and are overflowing with passion, love and affection. Ruth's are read beautifully by Natasha Richardson and are given added poignancy by the fact that Natasha tragically died shortly after.
An emotional adventure well worth seeing if you are fascinated by personal sacrifice, courage and endurance, underpinned by deep passion and love.