The Wildest Dream,
World War I before setting his sights on Everest. His familiarity with death and peril was hands-on, as he had served in the Battle of the Somme. But if his experiences as a gunner there played any role in shaping his high-altitude daredevil ways, Geffen doesn’t entertain the notion here.
The director does, however, establish Mallory’s obsession with conquering a mountain referred to by the climber in a 1922 journal as a “prodigious white fang excrescent from the jaw of the world.” Through the narration of correspondence between Mallory (voiced by Ralph Fiennes) and Ruth (voiced by Natasha Richardson), it becomes clear that Mallory’s attraction to Everest eventually overrides his sense of responsibility toward marriage and fatherhood — although Ruth didn’t appear too unhinged by the situation. She writes, “Dear one: I will be thinking of you as you set off for the summit. I know you can achieve your wildest dream.” In another letter, Mallory writes to Ruth, “If we get within 200 yards or so of the top of Everest, we shall go. And if it’s a one-way ticket, so be it.” The somber tone in the reading of romantic letters and primary film narration by Liam Neeson (Richardson’s husband) describe how Mallory’s passions were constantly at odds. When he was on the mountain, he longed to be home. When he was with his wife and children, the Himalayas beckoned.
In The Wildest Dream, Mallory’s inner struggle is mirrored and amplified through the high-definition scope of contemporary reference. Anker, an accomplished mountaineer, married the widow of his friend and former climbing partner Alex Lowe, who died in a 1999 avalanche while on a climbing trip with Anker and others in Tibet.
As filmmakers follow Anker’s 2007 expedition with British climber Leo Houlding to retrace Mallory’s and Irvine’s fateful journey, audiences learn how Anker’s new wife and kids feel about the possibility that he might not come home. It’s a brief but revealing look inside a family that has lost much and stands to lose it again.
Suspense reaches a peak when Anker and Houlding free-climb Mount Everest’s notorious Second Step, which begins at 28,140 feet and features sections that are essentially vertical. Just as Mallory and Irvine