The BFI National Archive’s gala screening at the 57th BFI London Film Festival (9 – 20 October) is the world premiere of the newly restored official film record of the legendary 1924 Everest expedition, The Epic of Everest (1924) directed by Captain John Noel. This record of the third attempt to climb Everest, one of the most remarkable films in the BFI National Archive, will have a simultaneous release in cinemas nationwide on 18 October, including at BFI Southbank from 19 October.
Screening at the Odeon West End cinema on the evening of 18 October in London’s Leicester Square, The Epic of Everest (1924) will have a remarkable new score performed live by composer Simon Fisher Turner with a specially created musical ensemble featuring electronic music, found sounds, western and Nepalese instruments and vocals.
Robin Baker, Head Curator of BFI National Archive says: “This is one of the greatest treasures of the BFI National Archive. It represents a key moment in the history of mountaineering and remains an enduring monument to Mallory and Irvine. This film is a precious record of endurance and is a powerful piece of cinema now beautifully restored to show how Everest was so nearly conquered. It is highly appropriate to present the film now, just sixty years since Everest was finally conquered by a British expedition and one hundred years since Captain John Noel, the film’s director, first set eyes on the mountain itself.”
Filming in brutally harsh conditions with a specially adapted camera, Captain John Noel captured images of breath-taking beauty and considerable historic significance. The film is also among the earliest filmed records of life in Tibet and features sequences at Phari Dzong (Pagri), Shekar Dzong (Xegar) and Rongbuk monastery. But what resonates so deeply is Noel’s ability to frame the vulnerability, isolation and courage of people persevering in one of the world’s harshest landscapes.
The restoration by the BFI National Archive has transformed the quality of the surviving elements of the film and reintroduced the original coloured tints and tones. Revealed by the restoration, few images in cinema are as epic or moving as the final shots of a blood red sunset over the Himalayas. The BFI has worked closely with Captain Noel’s daughter, Sandra Noel, to review the surviving materials. Before his death in 1989 Captain Noel had been in correspondence with the BFI about creating a definitive version of his film.
The Epic of Everest (1924): World Premiere of New Restoration Film, 57th BFI London Film Festival, 9 – 20 Oct. Released in cinemas nationwide from 18 October.
Restoration supported by The Eric Anker-Petersen Charity. UK distributor and world rights holder: BFI
More information www.bfi.org.uk/lff