Director: Anthony Geffen
Starring: Conrad Anker, Leo Houlding, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Natasha Richardson
Duration: 94 min.
Accompany present-day adventurer Conrad Anker as he recreates the 1924 ascent of George Mallory to the top of Mount Everest to solve a 75-year old mystery. The story of the last days of adventurer and Mount Everest climber George Mallory. The man who may or may not have been the first to scale the worlds most challenging peak. After disappearing 800 feet from the summit in 1924, Mallorys body was never found until present-day climber Conrad Anker discovered it, frozen and intact, 75 years later.
The Wildest Dream is the debut documentary feature directed by Anthony Geffen. It premiered at the 2010 Palm Springs International Film Festival. It is narrated by Liam Neeson and features voice acting from Ralph Fiennes, Hugh Dancy, Alan Rickman, and the late Natasha Richardson in her final film credit.
The story involves the mystery of whether or not George Mallory and partner Sandy Irvine reached the summit of Everest before dying on the mountain. In 1999, American climber Conrad Anker found Mallory's body frozen and intact on the mountain where it had been laying for 75 years; and the location of where it was found fueled speculation that perhaps Mallory did actually make it to the top. 8 years later, along with British climber Leo Houlding and a National Geographic crew to capture the evidence, Anker decides to trace the steps of Mallory and attempt to climb the mountain testing out the same primitive equipment to see if it really was possible.
The premise is a fascinating one, and the historical background into George Mallory's life (Ralph Fiennes) is pretty interesting, painting him as a born adventurer who would make a great subject for a biopic. Though it gets a bit too cloying when the focus turns to the relationship between Mallory and his wife Ruth (Natasha Richardson) having them recite love letters to one another. Also the talking head interviews with Anker came across very wooden, like he was reading recipes from cue cards, giving the exact opposite impression you should get of a man driven by a sense of adventure; and the modern recreations felt very staged with an over reliance on digitally manipulated footage that would be more at home on a made for television documentary. Still there are some strong points, with many incredible panoramic shots of the Himalayas and a very thrilling sequence of Leo Houlding free climbing a rock face while training for the ascent.
In the end we are given a bunch of unconvincing speculation and left with the mystery still unsolved, and normally that would be fine if the journey was a truly captivating one, but it just feels forced and the flaws make this one hard to really recommend. See it if it happens to be on TV, but don't go out of your way for it. If you really are in the mood for a climbing documentary seek out the excellent Touching the Void instead.