“The Wildest Dream: Conquest
This is one of the slowest-moving
documentaries ever filmed. Yes,
I know, they’re trying to capture the magnificent grandeur of
, and the lofty goals of those who would scale its summit at great personal
cost. They’re going for
majestic, but they get sonorous and somnolent.
They speak of the obsession to climb
the world’s highest mountain as a kind of “love triangle,” effectively
claiming the time, energy, attention, and resources of its smitten suitors,
who all have families they’ve left behind.
But it seems that what they’re
really trying to do is lionize George Mallory, the man who died trying in
1924, three decades before Sir Edmund Hillary is credited with being the
first. After a clumsy
re-enactment of the discovery of Mallory frozen corpse, a few hundred feet
below the summit, they rhapsodically surmise that Mallory could well have
fallen and broken his right leg on the way down, rather than on the way up.
But, of course, there’s no proof of that, and assuming he did is no
more verifiable than assuming he didn’t.
They try to reconstruct Mallory’s
expedition, which include scores of native Sherpa doing the real dirty work
of carrying all the equipment and acting as guides and teaching about
acclimatization, who, of
course, go totally unacknowledged (as for the implied racism inherent in
that situation, we just won’t even go there).
And why, pray tell, would anyone want
to risk literally life and limb to endure the incredible hardship of
climbing at altitudes beyond oxygen deprivation?
Well, in Mallory’s famous quote, “because it’s there.”
This film is really for the die-hard
mountaineers, who revel in their own culture of adventurism, hero worship,
and expedition management. The
rest of us just wonder “Why?”
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Grace