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Toronto Film Review: ‘Beyond the Edge’

Slow-paced rehash of Mountain Everest climb scarcely deepened by 3D.

Cast:

Chad Moffitt, Sonam Sherpa, John Wraight, Joshua Rutter, Dan Musgrove, Erroll Shand, Phurenje Tshering, Jimmy Kunsang.

The use of 3D scarcely deepens “Beyond the Edge,” a rote run-thru of Sir Edmund Hillary’s climb to the peak of Mount Everest 60 years ago. Narration mentions that the expedition represented the “last hurrah of the British empire,” although the pic’s historical context is too limited to convey the event’s importance to those outside the mountain-climbing set. Director Leanne Pooley mixes archival photos and film footage with reenactments and voiceover to little effect. The movie may travel the science-museum circuit, but most viewers will find Pooley’s recreation of an endurance test to be thorough to a fault.

A modest beekeeper from Auckland, Hillary, along with several dozen Westerners and sherpas, made the world’s 16th serious attempt to conquer Everest. At the highest altitudes and coldest temperatures, Hillary (played in the pic’s recreations by Chad Moffitt) and Nepal’s Tenzing Norgay (Sonam Sherpa) were able to climb only at an excruciatingly slow speed — a pace that the film itself maintains throughout. Hillary’s heroism is a given, while Pooley’s half-hearted attempt to characterize Norgay as more than the white man’s loyal cheerleader is simply embarrasing. Barbara Darragh’s costumes for the recreated scenes are convincing.

Toronto Film Review: 'Beyond the Edge'

Reviewed at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF Docs), September 8, 2013. Running time: 93 MIN.

Production:

(Documentary — New Zealand) A General Film Corporation presentation, in association with New Zealand Film Commission, NZ on Air’s Platinum Fund, Digipost, of a Matthew Metcalfe production. (International sales: Altitude Film Sales, London.) Produced by Metcalfe.

Crew:

Directed, written by Leanne Pooley. Camera (color, HD, 3D), Richard Bluck; editor, Tim Woodhouse; production designer, Grant Major; art directors, Sam Storey, Ken Turner, Jill Cormack; music, David Long; costume designer, Barbara Darragh; special effects, Tom Brown, Pete Jansen; visual effects supervisor, Stuart Bedford; sound, Bruno Barrett-Garnier; assistant director, Hamish Gough; casting, Liz Mullane.

With:

Chad Moffitt, Sonam Sherpa, John Wraight, Joshua Rutter, Dan Musgrove, Erroll Shand, Phurenje Tshering, Jimmy Kunsang.

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