Monday, April 11, 2016

The Epic of Everest (1924)

What kind of an individual looks at Mount Everest and says, “I will overcome that”? A person of rare drive, I think; a lot of courage and even more ego. And a person of means—lucky in life and in the moment. You’d need all those qualities, so that your fear of the mountain did not lead to intimidation, and then, to a hesitation to climb at all.

You’d need to check your awe, I suppose. Just enough to keep going.

The Epic of Everest is a documentary about that act: that checking of awe. It details a 1924 attempt by a team of Englishmen, aided by Tibetan men and Sherpas, to reach the summit of the world’s tallest peak. As if it were not enough for them to reach the top, the team wished to capture their ascent on camera. And so, through a tremendous mixture of planning and will, endurance and scientific experimentation, they produced the footage that would become this film. I’ve no doubt that Captain John Noel and his companions were told, many times, that it could not be done. But they did it, mostly. And we still have the record today.