Undoubtedly the most technically impressive film (not featuring Hobbits or Na’vi) ever mounted in this country, Beyond The Edge is also an emotionally enthralling experience that celebrates one of our nation’s greatest achievements with candour and respect.
However, it should be said that – perhaps more so than any other New Zealand film – it’s difficult to assess the entertainment value of Beyond The Edge without factoring in one’s status as a New Zealander.
I’m one of those people who clapped when Patrick Swayze mentioned New Zealand at the end of Point Break, and that kind of moderately embarrassing excitement is strewn all throughout Beyond The Edge – I was literally swelling with pride for most of its running time.
In tracking the journey to, and then up, Everest, a very appealing portrait of Edmund Hillary as a driven, lanky dynamo emerges. The classic New Zealand-ness of his character may be lost on foreign audiences, but the enormity of his and Tenzing’s achievement transcends all cultural lines.
There is plenty of commentary from the other people involved in the expedition, but the docu-drama benefits greatly from the decision to feature no talking heads – all we see on screen are dazzling, vertiginous re-creations and rare, illuminating archive footage.
The 3D enhances the agoraphobic expanse of the Himalayas for the most part, although some shots (like an extreme close-up of the eye belonging to the guy playing Hillary) seem a little redundant.
Every New Zealander should see this film, but even if we remove the homegrown cultural context from the equation, this is the best film of its kind since Touching The Void.
‘Beyond the Edge 3D’ Movie Times (also in 2D)