“THE EPIC OF EVEREST”— Newly Restored on Blu Ray

the epic of everest

“THE EPIC OF EVEREST”

Newly Restored on Blu Ray

Amos Lassen

“The Epic of Everest” is now newly restored in 4k by the British Film Institute. It features truly breathtaking images of the Himalayas. This is silent travelogue that depicts the 1924 historic expedition to the summit of Mount Everest by climbers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, whose untimely deaths resulted in uncertainty as to whether the men had indeed reached the peak of the mountain. Captain, John Noel, inspired by his long-time interest in Mount Everest, created a stunning visual document of the journey that also presented valuable, early-filmed records of life in Tibet.

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More than 90 years after its release, this documentary has undergone a painstaking restoration that brings the film to new audiences in its entire original splendor. All of intertitles have been reconstructed and restored from the original film and along with the original color tints and tones. This edition features a newly commissioned music score by Simon Fisher Turner.

The 1924 Everest expedition ended with the deaths of two of the finest climbers of their generation, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, and brought about an ongoing debate over whether or not they did indeed reach the summit. This film is an awe-inspiring travelogue of their perilous journey.

It was filmed in brutally harsh conditions with a specially adapted camera by which Captain Noel captured  images of breathtaking beauty and considerable historical significance. The film is also among the earliest filmed records of life in Tibet and features sequences of Phari Dzong (Pagri), Shekar Dzong (Xegar) and Rongbuk monastery. But what we really see and feel here is the vulnerability, isolation and courage of people living and persevering in one of the world’s harshest landscapes.

The restoration by the BFI National Archive has transformed the quality of the surviving elements of the film and reintroduced the original colored tints and tones. Revealed by the restoration, few images in cinema are as epic — or moving — as the final shots of a blood-red sunset over the Himalayas. There are new special features that include

“Introducing “The Epic of Everest” with Sandra Noel”,

“Scoring ‘The Epic of Everest’ with Simon Fisher Turner” and “Restoring “The Epic of Everest” with BFI curators” and a trailer.

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“The Epic of Everest,” is a film that depicts the incidents in the valiant attempt, in 1924, to conquer the summit of Mount Everest. The last sight of the two men who died is revealed on the screen, the scene having been taken by a telescopic lens from a distance of 3,000 yards at an altitude of 22,000 feet.

We learn of the heights at which the different camps were established, the affect the atmosphere had upon human beings see that the wind is the mountaineer’s chief enemy, and that the peak of Everest is lashed by a continuous 100-mile-an-hour gale. Long before reaching the summit this wind was such a handicap to the explorers that they had to lie down and grip the ice to prevent themselves from being swept to their death.

There are several film stretches that were taken from a distance of a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half. It’s not until the film’s final few moments that “The Epic of Everest” becomes beautifully poetic and even mythological when we hear how the native Nepalese both revere and worship the mountain that so many Westerners have traveled to conquer. This is an astonishing historical document. The film frequently transcends mere documentary status with its images of the imposing mountain face that are sometimes dotted with minuscule human figures.

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