Movie Review: “Beyond The Edge” Shows The Tenacity Of Man Against The Elements

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Review by James McDonald

Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary’s monumental and historical ascent of Mt. Everest in 1953 – an event that stunned the world and defined a nation.

At 11:30am, on the 29th of May, 1953, New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, reached the summit of Mount Everest at 29,035 feet, the highest point on earth. You can read about this epic quest online but what the producers of “Beyond the Edge” have done, and quite magnificently I might add, is take the journals, photographs, stories and interviews with the climbing expedition who were a part of this monumental achievement, and visually recreate it. At times, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between the actual photos and film footage of the real climbers and the actors portraying them in the re-enactment.

The movie focuses mainly on Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, as these were the first two men, at that time, who conquered Everest but the film also introduces us to the rest of their crew, the ninth British expedition to Mount Everest, led by John Hunt. During this expedition, Hillary was not chosen as the first to try and ascend Everest’s deadly summit, he was second. The first team were only able to advance some of the way but when it came to Hillary’s turn, he and his Sherpa Tenzing, set out to achieve the impossible. We follow their story as they deal with malfunctioning oxygen equipment, threatening avalanches and below freezing temperatures.

As they slowly advance on the treacherous mountain, we hear the actual voice of Edmund Hillary and what he was thinking at certain points throughout his ascension. As they get nearer to the peak, they must take absolutely everything into consideration, from lethal winds, their own physical and emotional exhaustion to a jagged and razor-sharp precipice which they must overcome in order to achieve their goal. They realized their dream simply because of their sheer perseverance and determination.

There is some absolutely stunning and breathtaking cinematography by Richard Bluck who worked as a director of photography on such epics as the “Lord of the Rings” movies and James Cameron’s “Avatar”. Mr. Bluck successfully displays just how beautiful and dangerous, Mother Nature really can be. I have viewed many documentaries about various contrasting topics but in regards to mountain-climbing, “Beyond the Edge” is my favorite. Director Leanne Pooley has constructed a riveting yet emotionally rewarding film about the courage of the human spirit.

In select theaters July 4th

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James McDonald
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