The 1953 ascent of Everest by the nation's favourite son, Sir Edmund Hillary, is being turned into a 3-D movie.
The feature-length film, Beyond the Edge, is being made by Auckland's General Film Corporation, and produced by Matthew Metcalfe, whose credits include Dean Spanley and Love Birds.
Hillary's conquest of Everest remains one of the great adventure stories, and the film will cover his journey from modest beginnings to overcoming his own demons to conquer the world's highest peak.
"It's an honour to produce a film about one of our greatest heroes, and, with a team of world-class film-makers and technicians, bring it to the big screen," Metcalfe said. "It will be breathtaking in 3D."
It was written and directed by Leanne Pooley, who made The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls and also directed Shackleton's Captain. She said the chance to work on Beyond the Edge was a gift.
"Like the conquest itself, Beyond the Edge will pound a stake in the ground, establishing once and for all that Hillary's triumph wasn't just a huge accomplishment, but an epic story that helped define a nation. It's my goal to take every Kiwi on a journey up the mountain on an adventure that will remind them of what it is that makes us who we are."
Beyond the Edge will focus on the climb itself. While the world acknowledges Hillary and Tenzing Norgay "knocked the bastard off", few people know the details of how, or understand the relatively primitive tools (by today's standards) available to them.
"They carried the hopes and dreams of the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the people of the Himalayas, and the entire British Empire on their shoulders," Pooley said. "As the world slowly recovered from the horrors of World War II, their efforts allowed people everywhere to believe a new age was dawning."
The project has the blessing of the Hillary family. Sir Ed's son Peter said from Nepal he was looking forward to being at the premiere. "At last a chance to tell Ed Hillary's Mt Everest story. I'm delighted that story is finally coming to New Zealand screens."
Casting director Liz Mullane (The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit) is charged with finding a New Zealand actor to play Hillary, and the production designer is Grant Major, an Academy Award winner for his work on Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The New Zealand Film Commission has invested in association with NZ On Air's Platinum Fund, Digifilm, TVNZ and RialtoDistribution, which will release the film in New Zealand and Australia next year.
- Sunday Star Times