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article imageReview: ‘Beyond the Edge’ takes audiences to incredible heights Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 16, 2013 in Entertainment
Director Leanne Pooley's 'Beyond the Edge' chronicles Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s conquest of Mt. Everest in 1953.
For climbers of any ilk, Mt. Everest is the ultimate venture. However, it's also one of the most expensive so most are limited to dreaming about standing atop the world's highest peak. On the 60th anniversary of the conquest, director Leanne Pooley accomplishes two feats with her latest documentary, Beyond the Edge: she recreates the first successful climb to the summit and gives dreamers a small feel of the otherwise unattainable by presenting the adventure in 3D.
In 1953, Col. John Hunt assembled a team of mountaineers comprised of mostly Brits, a couple of Kiwis and 600 Sherpas. Their goal was to finally reach the summit and hopefully set a Brit atop the mountain first. After several months and two attempts, New Zealand's Sir Edmund Hillary and local Tenzing Norgay became the first men to set foot on the world's highest peak.
This is a wholly immersive experience only made more real by the (intentionally?) frigid temperature of the theatre. The excellent use of 3D technology puts audiences on the mountainside with these historic figures. The camera recreates the journey from beginning to end, capturing the challenges of traversing multiple crevasses and constructing rope paths for the enormous team. The camera takes on a first-person point-of-view for the final steps of their travels, allowing the audience to reach the summit in tandem with Hillary and Norgay.
Actors portray the real-life climbers, casted in as much likeness as possible to their counterparts. The film includes rarely seen footage and no narration outside of the words actually spoken by team members within the expedition. For authenticity, they were outfitted in the same clothes and gear used in the original climb, which are archaic by today's standards and resulted in a lot of frostbite for the 1953 team. Though none of the actors were skilled climbers prior to shooting, they did receive some training and doubles were utilized for more arduous scenes.
Climbers will rejoice in the accuracy of the picture, even though it doesn't attempt to settle the argument of who mounted the peak first.
Beyond the Edge screened as part of the TIFF Docs programme during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Director: Leanne Pooley
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