Anthony Geffen’s new documentary The Wildest Dream is as breathtaking as you’d expect from a film presented by National Geographic and the story is worthy albeit a haunting and poignant counterpart. The film is composed of original footage shot during Mallory’s climbs of Everest, photographs of Mallory, friends and family from the same period and original letters between Mallory and his wife Ruth. There is a haunting quality to the film as Mallory looks straight into the camera from all those years ago, joking with his comrades and challenging death.
The historical footage is complemented by new footage of Conrad Anker as he retraces the fated footsteps of Mallory during his attempt to conquer Mt. Everest. Yet with Anker’s entrance, Mallory’s starts to fade from the film and as Mallory fades so does a bit of the mythic quality of the film. There are astounding moments with jaw dropping views of Mount Everest. The free climb in which the climber only uses hands, feet and other parts of the body to ascend a mountain is shocking. Yet others scenes loose their edge with moments of seemingly mock danger that add nothing to the story. However, when you leave the movie there will be plenty to talk about. The real stars are and will be Mallory and the cameramen. They will be front of mind and on the tips of every toughs as you leave the theatre. But this film is not for everyone. Outdoorsmen, climbers and doc lover will be particularly fond of this movie and should see it on the IMAX. Others might wait for it to go to cable or DVD.
George Mallory was obsessed with becoming the first person to conquer the untouched Mount Everest. Last seen 800 feet below the summit in 1924, the clouds rolled in and he disappeared into legend. His death stunned the world. 75 years later, climber Conrad Anker’s life became intertwined with Mallory’s after finding his frozen body with all his belongings intact. The only thing missing was a photograph of his wife, Ruth, which Mallory had promised to place on the summit. Haunted by Mallory’s story, Conrad returns to Everest to unravel the mysteries surrounding his disappearance. The Wildest Dream tell Mallory’s story through letters to his wife, previously unseen photos, and film from 1924 as well as from the 1999 expedition that discovered Mallory’s body on Everest.
Cast (credited cast)
Liam Neeson (Narrator), Ralph Fiennes (George Mallory-voice), Natasha Richardson (Ruth Mallory-voice), Alan Rickman (Noel Odell-voice), Hugh Dancy (Andrew Irvine-voice), Conrad Anker (himself) and Leo Houlding (himself),
Release Date: 6 August 2010 (wide). Directed by Anthony Geffen; written by Mark Halliley; released by National Geographic Entertainment. Running time: 94 minutes; MPAA Rated PG for thematic elements involving hardships of climbing, and some historical smoking images; genre: Art/Foreign and Documentary.
Opening August 6, 2010 at Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinema in San Francisco. Check local listing to confirm show times.