If you want to experience an exciting adventure in the cinema, an adventure larger then life itself, then you must see The Wildest Dream, a documentary of the re-enactment of the 1924 Mt. Everest climb by George Mallory and Andrew ‘Sandy’ Irvine.
The documentary follows climbers Conrad Anker and Leo Houlding as they attempt to retrace the steps Mallory and Irvine completed in their quest to reach the highest peak in the world in 1924. Mallory was last seen 800 feet below the summit, and his death stunned the world. In this documentary, Anker hoped to prove that Mallory and Irvine did indeed make it to the top, and that it was on the way down that tragedy happened and both men perished on the mountain. In 1999, Anker found Mallory’s frozen body along with his belongings intact, fueling his desire to retrace Mallory’s steps a few years later.
In the retelling of this amazing, true story, the documentary switches from present day, as Anker and Houlding get ready to climb the mountain, then back to 1924 in black and white images of Mallory and Irvine attempting to do the same. The older images are vivid, and it feels like you are watching a documentary of Mallory and Irvine as you follow - and understand - their obsession with getting to the top.
The most poignant moments of the film are when the story is told through Mallory’s letters to his wife. The letters tell the optimism and then the pessimism Mallory was feeling during his goal to be the first person to reach the top of Mt. Everest. The voice of the wife was done by Natasha Richardson, who died suddenly last year, hitting her head after skiing down a mountain. The movie is narrated by her husband Liam Neeson, whose voice during the film adds the appropriate inflections. Ralph Fiennes is the voice of Mallory.
The Wildest Dream is excellent in both its retelling of Mallory and Irvine’s trek, and Anker and Houlding's retracing of that trek. It is beautifully filmed and beautifully told.
The Wildest Dream is now playing at London’s IMAX theatre.
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