The Wildest Dream
George Mallory is not a
name that is all that well remembered over eighty years after his death,
though one quotation that he made in an interview is still in the popular
lexicon (as well as undoubtedly Bartlett's Book of Quotations).
When asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, Mallory simply replied,
"Because it's there."
Mallory made that conquest
of the summit his life's ambition and his obsession, climbing the massive
mountain three times. The third time, in 1924, he may have even been
successful, but the world will never know because he and his climbing
partner disappeared from view of his base camp a mere 800 feet from the
summit on his final attempt.
Even though it is common
belief that Sir Edmund Hillary was the first to reach the top of the mammoth
mountain about 30 years after Mallory's apparent death, there has long been
conjecture: did Mallory die trying to get to the top, or trying to come down
from his ultimate triumph?
Essentially, Mallory and
his climbing companion took this piece of knowledge to the grave with them,
however climber Conrad Anker has always wanted to find out whether the
adventurer could have possibly reached his dream before his untimely death.
Anker went back and forth to Everest, eventually discovering the frozen
solid (and still amazingly well-preserved) body of the star-crossed explorer
The odd location of
Mallory's body made Anker even more certain that the climber was on his way
down from the summit rather than climbing. Therefore Anker decided to
climb the mountain using only the clothing and equipment that Mallory had
available to him 80 years earlier - to prove to himself that it could have
The documentary The
Wildest Dream flips back and forth between modern footage of Ankler
searching for the body and trying to climb Everest himself with fascinating
archival footage of Mallory's life and climbs. Real letters by
Mallory, his wife and his climbing companions are read by actors. Even
his death is recreated.
Obviously, it goes without
saying that the scenery is truly spectacular and much of the story of
Mallory and Anker's separate missions are terribly gripping. However,
in the long run, all of Anker's hard work and death-defying effort leads us
to the exact same knowledge that he had going in: yes, it is very possible
that Mallory reached the top, but there is no way to really know for sure.
Only two people ever knew never got to tell their story.
The film also has a
bittersweet coda which has nothing at all to do with George Mallory or his
mountain. The movie is narrated by actor Liam Neeson and the letters
of George's beloved wife Ruth Mallory were read by Neeson's late wife,
actress Natasha Richardson, in her final work before her own premature death
last year. It is particularly touching in the context of the film:
Richardson is reading letters written to a man who was about to be killed in
a violent fall on a snowy mountain, which is eerily prophetic of her own
(Note: Despite the fact that this is listed in
the "Now Playing in Theaters" section, at the time of this posting the movie
is widely playing in museums as well as theaters. It is almost inevitable that it
will be released on DVD, but there is no official release date set.)
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: August 3, 2010.