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film slate The Making of an IMAX/IWERKS Film
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"The First" Films
"The Conquest of Everest," Tom Stobart's film of the first successful ascent of the mountain by the British team led by Colonel John Hunt in 1953, is surely the most popular and inspirational mountaineering film of all time. In Britain, every schoolchild was taken to see it. The film matches the climbing achievement—it is truly remarkable what excellent material Stobart, as a lone cameraman, managed to obtain, although of course he had to rely on stills for the summit shots. For years, the royalties earned from the book and film of this expedition provided and replenished the funds of the Mount Everest Foundation, which has assisted many other mountaineers in realizing their climbing ambitions.

avalanche Many people thought that interest in the world's highest mountain would wane after the first ascent. Far from it. Mountaineers of every nationality wanted to repeat the accomplishment, and even to create new routes. It became almost a matter of course that every attempt was documented on film. On the 1963 American expedition, which repeated the 1953 route as well as establishing a West Ridge-Southeast Ridge traverse, Norman Dyhrenfurth was both expedition leader and film maker. When members Lute Jerstad and Barry Bishop made their bid for the top, Bishop took a stills camera and Jerstad a little spring-wound Bell and Howell, with which he took the first-ever moving summit footage. "Americans on Everest," the resulting film, narrated by Orson Welles, became the first National Geographic Special.

film slate At the time of the first attempt without oxygen in 1978 during the course of an Austrian expedition, British cameraman/director Leo Dickinson, who had earned an Emmy the year before for his kayaking film from Base Camp, "Dudh Kosi, Relentless River of Everest," gave the climbers a small Super-8 video camera to take to the summit. Reinhold Messner was able to photograph Peter Habeler struggling up the Hillary Step, and they both filmed each other on top in the film "Everest Unmasked." An amazing avalanche sequence featured in the ABC Sports film "Mount Everest, the East Face, 1981," whose cameramen included Kurt Diemberger and David Breashears, won an Emmy, and 2 years later Breashears picked up another for his live microwave transmission from the summit in "Ascent of Mount Everest," another ABC Sports production. A third Emmy followed, and David then went on to produce, direct, and write "Taller than Everest" for NOVA.


Photos: (1) courtesy Robert Schauer; (2) courtesy Ed Viesturs; (3) courtesy David Breashears.

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