On May 29, 1953, a Nepalese Sherpa and an understated Auckland beekeeper—who we discover had his share of quirks and demons—were famously the first in the world to conquer Everest. Their feat has inspired, and even defined, New Zealanders for the past 60 years. This 3D feature-length doco unveils the entire story for the first time on the big screen.
The film blends expedition footage and photographs with modern re-enactments, all overlaid with interview audio from key team members (including Hilary).
It starts with Sir Ed’s tough early years as a lonely teenager dreaming of adventure during the Depression. He then discovers climbing in the Southern Alps, builds a reputation as one of the best, and is subsequently invited to join a British expedition in the race to the top of the world. Hillary and Tensing were only reserves for the final assault on the summit, but when two Brits failed to reach the top due to gear malfunctions, Ed and Tensing seized their chance.
The doco has a refreshing absence of any hint of Hollywood hype—which you’d expect from a Kiwi film on Hillary—but, in doing so, it does lose some of its ability to engage all audiences, and the 3D is rather token and distracting. In saying this, the natural beauty, the person of Sir Ed, and the sheer drama of the expedition are enough to make this succeed.
When you see it at the cinemas, why not make the event extra special and pay with $5 notes (check whose mug is on the front)!
Review by Hayden Shearmen
Beyond the Edge (3D)
Director: Leanne Pooley
Run time: 1 hr 33 mins