“The Wildest Dream:  Conquest of Everest”
 
This is one of the slowest-moving documentaries ever filmed.  Yes, I know, they’re trying to capture the magnificent grandeur of Mt. Everest , 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 Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas