For those that don’t know their history, George Mallory was a British mountaineer who took part in the first three British expeditions to Mount Everest in the early 1920s and who was last seen just a few hundred metres from the summit. This was 30 years before Hillary and Tenzing conquered it for the first recorded time.
The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest is a truly awe-inspiring documentary about the final venture to conquer Mount Everest by the climber George Mallory who never returned from his last attempt to scale it and whose body was never found until 1999. The man who found Mallory’s body, Conrad Anker, goes on his own journey to attempt the same recorded route to see if Mallory did actually reach the summit or whether he died trying as previously thought.
The film intersects two stories as we follow Conrad Anker’s climb with camera crew and director Anthony Geffen following Mallory’s route where Anker and his young climbing companion Leo Houlding use similar equipment as Mallory would have used in 1920’s and we follow the story of Mallory’s own personally life and his incredible climb and battle to be the first man to conquer Everest. It’s incredibly fascinating, an extraordinary story and a visually stunning piece of filming that has stuck with me long after seeing the film.
The film is narrated by Liam Neeson and the actual letters and transcripts written by Mallory, his wife Ruth Mallory, Mallory’s climbing companion Andew Irvine and exhibition camera man Noel Odell are read and voiced by Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Hugh Dancy and Alan Rickman respectively to add a haunting and emotional impact to the incredible actual video footage, photos that add a real impacting meaning to what Mallory and his companions were going through both emotionally and mentally to climb the impossible mountain.
The side story of Conrad Anker starts off uninspiring as he feels like someone cashing in on his new found fame for finding the body of George Mallory, but he is a remarkable person and his story quickly grows into an equally interesting journey as his life clearly starts to mirror the passion and selfishness of Mallory in regards to putting his life on the line to conquer the mountain leaving family and loved ones detached and second choice in their love triangle with Mount Everest. The film reaches it’s climax as Anker and Houlding reach a 90ft sheer rock face known as the second steep which is only accessible by a ladder that they remove to recreate the conditions that Mallory would have faced in 1924 and to free climb the second step would possibly answer if Mallory could have reached the summit.
Geffen has created a phenomenal documentary, we feel the cold and hear the bitter wind as Anker and Houlden suffer and explain their pain in trying to reach the top of the world. The images of the mountain are just stunning and as the film develops the Mountain becomes a character itself, it’s completely unforgiving but beautiful at the same time and Geffen captures it perfectly. Overall The Wildest Dream is a truly remarkable story and there is no doubt Mallory was a truly incredible man with a truly incredible life which is revealed in one of the most fascinating documentaries I’ve ever seen.
The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest is released on 24th September.