The British Film Institute has officially announced and detailed is upcoming Dual Format Edition of J.B.L. Noel's recently restored The Epic of Everest (1924). The release will be available for purchase online and in shops across the United Kingdom on January 27, 2014.
Inspired by Herbert Ponting (The Great White Silence), Captain Noel recorded images of breathtaking beauty and considerable historic significance using specially adapted equipment. The film is also amongst the earliest filmed records of life in Tibet. But it is the brooding presence of the mountain itself that is the heart of Noel's film, and his photography captures the magical play of light and shadow on an alien landscape which enhances the vulnerability, isolation and courage of the mountaineers.
The restoration – undertaken in collaboration with Sandra Noel, the director's daughter – has transformed the quality of the surviving elements of the film and reintroduced the original coloured tints and tones.
The BFI commissioned a new score by Simon Fisher Turner which was released on LP/CD by Mute in October and has been voted No.1 soundtrack of the year by Mojo magazine.
Also included on the release are three documentary featurettes about the film, the restoration and the score, and an optional alternative musical accompaniment; the original 1924 score as recreated by Julie Brown, a specialist on film music and early twentieth-century concert music.
Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
Introducing The Epic of Everest (2013): Sandra Noel and Bryony Dixon (BFI National Archive) discuss the background and filming process
Scoring The Epic of Everest (2013): Composer Simon Fisher Turner discusses the production of the new score
Restoring The Epic of Everest (2013): Bryony Dixon, Ben Thompson (BFI National Archive) and Lisa Copson (Deluxe Digital) discuss the restoration process
Alternative score – the original 1924 score recreated by Julie Brown. Performed by Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra conducted by Andrew Gourlay
Additional musical pieces that accompanied the film on its first screening at the Scala, London in 1924
Original 1924 film program (downloadable PDF, DVD only)
30 page illustrated booklet with essays/contributions from explorer and writer Wade Davis, Simon Fisher Turner, Sandra Noel, Julie Brown and the BFI National Archive's Kieron Webb, plus notes on the musical extras and full credits.
Having seen Nanook of the North (1922), Der Heilige Berg (1926), and South (1919), I've become a huge fan of black and white movies set in polar or high-altitude regions. The medium just seems to capture the harshness of ice and snow so well in contrast to the tiny black shapes that represent people or ships.