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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 13, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 33
Wildest Dream has it all ... in IMAX
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Wildest Dream has it all ... in IMAX

by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

The Wildest Dream
Now Playing


Anthony Geffen's new film, The Wildest Dream, has it all: perilous expeditions to exotic locales, spine-tingling action/adventure sequences, dizzying cinematography, handsome heroes, the gorgeous women who love them, and a couple of juicy love stories. If that's not enough, the film will be screened in IMAX. Oh yeah, and it's also a documentary.

The Wildest Dream chronicles the lives of George Mallory and Conrad Anker, two men whose mountaineering adventures are inextricably intertwined despite being separated in time by more than 75 years. Mallory is best known for his famous reply to the question, "Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?" Anker is best known for finding Mallory's weathered remains on Everest's treacherous northeast ridge. (Anker is also an author, film producer, humanitarian, all-around nice guy, and quite simply one of the best mountain climbers ever.)

Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, disappeared near Everest's summit in 1924. They were last spotted just below the infamous Second Step, a rocky precipice that's been bridged by a 15-foot aluminum ladder since 1975. The debate continues to this day as to whether, or not, Mallory and Irvine had the skill to successfully free-climb the feature with their '20s-era gear and clothing.

I briefly spoke to Anker during the screening's short intermission, and via phone a couple of days later. When asked if he believes Mallory and Irvine made the summit Anker says, "There's a good chance they could have. It's not impossible. But it's not my place to say, well, they did or they didn't, but it's rather to celebrate their life and what it was like to explore in 1924."

Anker is correct, of course. And we'll never know for certain one way or another unless new evidence surfaces (a highly unlikely scenario). Still, I doubt the speculation and arguments will cease any time soon.

The mystery is augmented by the missing photo of Mallory's beloved wife Ruth that he had vowed to leave at the summit. Though Mallory's belongings were amazingly intact after 75 years, the photo was missing.

The film also follows Anker and his angel-faced, blue-eyed climbing partner, Leo Holding, as they retrace Mallory and Irvine's route in 2007. The boys experiment with gear and clothing identical to that of Mallory and Irvine. They also attempt a knuckle-biting free-climb of the Second Step that will likely leave you queasy.

Along with the amazing adventures of the four crazy/courageous (you pick) mountaineers, there are a couple of profound love stories. The first is between Mallory and his loyal wife who worried away the hours back in England while raising three kids as the man she loved risked everything for a few moments at the top of the world. Their love affair is drawn through a series of letters exchanged while Mallory was away.

The second is between Anker and his wife Jennifer, the widow of his best friend and climbing partner Alex Lowe. Their love affair, chronicled in more detail in the 2007 documentary The Endless Knot, grew from the grief and guilt around the 1999 avalanche that took Lowe's life and nearly killed Anker.

The Wildest Dream is now playing at the Pacific Science Center's IMAX theater. It is truly a documentary that has it all. The stories are fascinating and inspiring, the filmmaking is breathtaking, and it's all in the glorious cinematic splendor of IMAX. Why should you go see it? Because it's there.

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