Mount Everest. It's synonymous with the impossible. Director Leanne Pooley (whose Topp Twins won the People's Choice Documentary Award at the Festival in 2009) transports the viewer back in time sixty years to the foot of that seemingly unconquerable mountain, and recreates an incredible journey to the top.
While many know that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first men to stand on the summit, few know how it happened. Using rarely seen footage, and no narration other than the words of the expedition members themselves — culled from hours of archival interviews — Pooley recreates the conditions (including what seems now to be only the most rudimentary equipment), the relationships, and the socio-historical context of the undertaking that had much of the world holding its breath. The film takes us, step by exhilarating step, as Hillary and Tenzing battle upwards — illustrating their setbacks, their small victories, and the remarkable strength of their bond. Although the pair was not expected to be the first team at the summit, the film probes the psyches of the two men and invites the viewer to ponder what made them triumphant over that most formidable antagonist, Everest.
On this sixieth anniversary of the conquest of the world's highest mountain, it seems fitting that 3D technology is available to provide for complete viewer engagement. It allows us to walk it, breathe it, and make Everest our own. Even though we know the ending of the story, we are amazed and thrilled and inspired by how it unfolds.