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George Mallary biographical film gets third attempt

Everest.jpgShekhar Kapur is the new name associated with the third attempt to get a film made of the famous explorer George Mallory, the man who may well have been the first to climb Mount Everest without oxygen. This film will concentrate on his obsession with the mountain and how it affected his marriage, it's not clear yet whether it will delve into if he did make it to the top or not.

Julia Roberts' company is producing the film and Matthew Faulk and Mark Skeet are the writers behind it, so it's all change from the two previous attempts.

We first heard of a film of Mallory back in October 2006 which was going to be directed by James McEachen from his own script, and that project went quiet.

Then in August 2009 there was word that Sony were trying to buy Sheldon Turner's script about the man, who had adapted the novel by Jeffrey Archer called Paths of Glory (Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com).

To remind you of who Mallory was, let me look back to what I wrote in a previous story, because it outlines the story perfectly.

George Mallory was involved in various attempts to reach the summit without the aid of oxygen and competed with George Finch to be the first to climb the 8,850 metre high mountain of Everest. However on the climb of 1924 with his partner Andrew Irvine, they succumbed to the perils of the weather and died.

It was 1999 when the body was found, and that's when the debate began as to whether he might have been the first ever man, along with Irvine, to reach the summit of Everest without the aid of oxygen, beating Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay who are credited with the achievement in 1953.

There are various reasons for the debate, but the biggest one is that Mallory carried with him a photograph of his wife which he had promised to place on the summit, except when his body was found there was no photo in any of his possessions or about him, and yet there were many other personal items frozen with him.

Other reasons are that it appears Mallory fell from below Irvine before he died, and that suggests they may have been descending. Also due to the absence of snow goggles on Mallory, and comparing the time that they started the ascent to when nightfall would have made these goggles useless, it would suggest they were climbing down the mountain.

He's credited with answering the question “Why climb Mount Everest” with the now well used phrase, “because it's there”

There are little details about this film in the Variety article, but it does say that it's going to concentrate on the obsession with Everest and the personal affect it had on him and his marriage. It does say that it will chronicle his attempts to climb the mountain, and the question will be if it states he was eight hundred metres from the summit, was descending after reaching it, or if it'll take a completely partisan look at his final climb.

Most notably Shekhar Kapur directed the two Elizabeth films, which looked fantastic, even if the second film didn't flow well. Then the two writers worked on Vanity Fair, the Mira Nair version of the story, so they've got some strong historical and dramatic flair to them too.

This could turn out to be a great film, I think a lot hinges on how they show Mallory, his team, and his final attempt.





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