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The Epic of Everest


Saturday saw a trip to the British Film Institute to view the recent restoration of Captain John Noel’s The Epic of Everest. This powerful and poignant film of the 1924 British expedition serves as a fascinating historical record and a memorial to Mallory and Irvine who lost their lives during the final summit push.

The 80 minute film encompasses the entire expedition; the 500-strong party trekking across the Tibetan plateau, observation of villagers in their high altitude settlements and then the ascent itself, stage by stage.

Many aspects of the film fascinate. The expedition equipment, state of the art in 1924, is  antiquated by todays standards. Some quick post-film research revealed that Burberry were commissioned to produce the climbing outerwear and John Smedley provided thermal base layers.

The original film is of course silent. Titles are interspersed throughout the story which place it securely in the early 20th century whilst adding to the drama. The BFI commissioned Simon Fisher Turner to write a new score for the restored version, listen to an excerpt here. A year in preparation it includes wonderfully diverse musicians, instruments, recorded sound and Noel’s original recordings.

The Epic of Everest is on general release from 18 October, more information here. Images credits, BFI.