‘Ocean to Sky’ coming to New Zealand Cinemas on October 31, 2019
Auckland, October 5, 2019
In August 1977 a Shipping Corporation of India vessel unloaded three New Zealand jet boats at Haldia. At about the same time, an Air India plane landed in Kolkata carrying Sir Edmund Hillary and ten of his friends with 600 kgs of excess baggage.
Hillary’s last major expedition, his ‘Ocean to Sky journey’ along India’s Holy River Ganges from Ganga Sagar to the snowy peaks of the Devlok, was about to begin.
Millions watch their Hero
For the people of India, it was a pilgrimage led by a hero of almost God-like status and millions lined the river to watch.
“We roared in our jet boats into the great city of Kolkata, under the Howrah Bridge. And the crowds were absolutely mind-boggling. Three or four million people lining the banks, all of them waving, all there to get a glimpse of the amazing jet boats and my father, Ed Hillary.” recalls Sir Edmund’s son Peter.
“We departed upriver with the cheers of the crowd ringing in our ears. The warmth of our reception was incredible.”
For Sir Edmund and his 22-year-old son, it was a healing journey too, as they came to terms with the recent loss of Ed’s beloved wife, Louise and daughter Belinda.
And for Sir Edmund’s team of friends, it was a thrilling ride through the heart of India aboard three of New Zealand’s iconic Hamilton Jet Boats.
Driven by the son and grandson of the inventor, and Sir Edmund’s friend and Hindu Scholar Dr Jim Wilson, they navigated the Ganges’ tiger-infested delta, crossed its vast, fertile flood plains and struggled up gorges guarded by fearsome rapids.
Then near Nandaprayag a waterfall stretching right across the river ended the jet boat stage of their journey.
They continued their Ganga Tirtha on foot, sharing the sacred trails with other pilgrims, climbing via Kedarnath, Hemkund and Badrinath towards unclimbed peak.
Then, near the Ganges’ snowy source the unthinkable happened. The first man to climb the world’s highest mountain succumbed to altitude sickness and was rushed down in a desperate race to save his life.
Yet, to Sir Edmund, it always remained “the best journey of them all.”
Revisiting India of 1970s
Revisit the India of the 1970s with majestic country boats under full sail, share the excitement of the crowds and get behind the myth to meet the “real” Sir Edmund Hillary as his friends recall the highs and lows, the laughter and the tears of this life-changing journey through a land they all loved.
‘Hillary: Ocean to Sky’ will be released in New Zealand cinemas on October 31, 2019.
Watch a trailer and read more about the film and the journey at www.michaeldillonfilms.com.au