Premiere for film of Mallory's doomed Everest bid

Official 1924 footage of doomed climb by two Englishmen restored for release in cinemas

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 3:32am


The official film record of one of mountaineering's most captivating mysteries - the 1924 Everest climb of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine - will have a world premiere in October.

The footage has been restored by the British Film Institute (BFI) as debate continues today over whether the two climbers actually made it to the summit 89 years ago and 60 years after Everest was officially first conquered.

The Epic of Everest was made by the explorer Captain John Noel, who accompanied Mallory and Irvine on what was the third attempt on the mountain.

Robin Baker, head curator at the BFI National Archive, described the film as one of its greatest treasures and said: "It represents a key moment in the history of mountaineering and remains an enduring monument to Mallory and Irvine."

The film tells the story of the doomed expedition and also provides some of the earliest filmed footage of life in Tibet.

Noel raised the bulk of the expedition's finance and organised the transport and use of primitive film equipment.

"Noel was a remarkable man,"said Jan Faull, the BFI's archive production curator. "He had an eye for the immensity of the project, but he was also in awe of the mountain. He saw it as magical, and I think that comes across in the film."

Noel's daughter Sandra said she was thrilled at the restoration.

"My father was always trying to get it done, but he wasn't a very pushy person."

The BFI has restored some of Noel's original blue and pink coloured tints and tones, including the final shots of a blood-red sunset over the Himalayas.

It captures the tragedy of the expedition but cannot answer one of the enduring questions - did the two Englishmen, in their hobnailed boots and gabardine jackets, make it to the top?

Most experts believe they did not. Mallory was last seen 250 metres from the summit and there is still no proof of whether he was going up or coming down at the time.

His body was eventually found in 1999, about 450 metres further down.

The restored film will get its first showing at the BFI London film festival on October 18.