The Epic of Everest

The official film record of the legendary 1924 attempt to conquer the highest mountain in the world, with a performance by Simon Fisher Turner of his new score.

Image gallery

  • Director-Producer-Cinematographer Captain John Noel
  • UK 1924
  • 87 mins
  • U
  • UK distribution BFI

The official film record of the third attempt to climb Everest is one of the most remarkable films in the BFI National Archive. This legendary expedition culminated in the deaths of two of the finest climbers of their generation, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, and sparked an on-going debate over whether or not they did indeed reach the summit. Filming in brutally harsh conditions with a specially adapted camera, Captain John Noel captured images of breathtaking beauty and considerable historical significance. The movie is among the earliest filmed records of Tibetan life 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 film elements 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.

Bryony Dixon and Jan Faull, BFI National Archive

Simon Fisher Turner’s new score – combining electronic music, found sounds, western and Nepalese instruments and vocals – will be performed live by the composer with specially assembled musicians.

Restoration supported by The Eric Anker-Petersen Charity

The Epic of Everest (with recorded score by Simon Fisher Turner) is also released in cinemas nationwide on Friday 18 October.