JDIFF Review – Beyond the Edge

In 1953, a British-led expedition set out to conquer Everest, the mountain that had captured the imagination of climbers for decade, but had thus far remained unconquered.

Beyond the Edge is an engaging look at an expedition to summit the tallest mountain in the world, a quest that did not end in disaster, but instead made super stars of climbers Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Engagingly created through the use of voiceover interview with the climbers and their families, Beyond the Edge combines this with both original footage from the climb and recreated imagery.

We have seen so many mountain climbing disaster movies lately, that it makes a refreshing change that Leanne Pooley’s film focuses on an expedition that went right, rather than one that went wrong. Not all of the film is about success however, Pooley ensures that the audience knows the trek from Nepal to the summit of Everest did not always run smoothly and, even though the team had an impressive amount of sherpas and helpers with them, when it came to it, there were only two men with the stamina to make it to the top of the world.

The original footage and photographs of the trek add weight to the story, combining these with recreated footage shot in both New Zealand and at Everest itself means that what could be a rather dry re-telling of the first men to reach the top of Everest, is dramatised and tense. The 3D adds depth to the images, reinforcing the sheer height and danger of the climb that these men undertook.

That said, this is not a perfect film – although it succeeds in many ways – the inspirational story is slightly dulled by the focus on the much-needed oxygen carried by the climbers. At times, it feels as though too much focus is given to the technical aspect of the climb, rather than the emotional and physical strength and tenacity that drove these men to climb the mountain.

Beyond the Edge is a mountain climbing movie with a happy ending. A rare beast indeed. The story is inspirational and the cinematography beautiful, although the decision to focus on the technical aspect of the ascent serves to slightly dull the emotional impact of the film. Still, it is hard not to be moved when the summit is finally reached.

Rating: 3.5/5

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