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Touching the Void (2003)

Cast: Brendan Mackey, Brendan Mackey, Nicholas Aaron, more...
Director: Kevin MacDonald
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: MGM
Genre: Documentary, Foreign, UK
Running Time: 107 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
    see additional details...

In 1985, two adventurous young mountaineers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, set off to climb the treacherous west face of the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. They were experienced climbers, and climbed "Alpine-style," climbing the mountain in "one great push," without setting up ropes or base camps ahead of time. After dealing with a snowstorm and some dangerous climbing over powder formations, they reached the summit (about 21,000 feet) on the third day. The climb down proved to be far more difficult. Simpson fell and broke his leg badly. Yates decided to try to lower Simpson down the mountain, one 300-foot section of rope at a time. The climbers had run out of gas to melt snow, so they couldn't risk stopping as night came, and a violent snowstorm began. Their plodding, painful journey hit a snag when Yates inadvertently lowered Simpson over the edge of a cliff. In the storm, the men couldn't hear each other's cries, and, Yates, uncertain as to Simpson's position, and gradually sliding down the slope himself, decided to cut the rope that connected them, sending Simpson plummeting to certain death. Miraculously, Simpson survived the fall, and was faced with the prospect of getting off the mountain alone with no food, no water, and a broken leg. In Touching the Void, filmmaker Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September) tells their story, based on Simpson's book, using contemporary interviews with the two men, and a reenactment of their climb and descent, featuring Brendan Mackey as Simpson and Nicholas Aaron as Yates. Touching the Void was shown at the 2003 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

Special Features:

  • "Making of Touching the Void Featurette
  • "Return to Siula Grande" Featurette
  • "What Happened Next" Interview with Joe Simpson and Simon Yates
  • Orignal Theatrical Trailer

GreenCine Member Reviews

Incredibly Powerful by AShields December 13, 2004 - 7:26 AM PST
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
I watched this movie when it was aired on PBS in November 2004. I didn't intend to spend the night watching public television, but this movie is so powerful it held my attention until the end. And afterward, I felt drained.

The story is told through interviews with the three men (the two main protagonists and one guy who "guards" the base camp) supported by amazingly life-like recreations using actors. It all combines to tell one intensely gripping story. The recreations reinforce the environmental conditions that the men faced while the interviews reveal their intense psychological struggle. You will not be able to turn away - either for some popcorn or to go to the bathroom. Highly recommended.

A different kind of mountain-climbing movie by talltale June 20, 2004 - 8:49 AM PDT
9 out of 10 members found this review helpful
I don't usually enjoy mountain-climbing movies unless the climbing occurs due to efforts to escape the Nazis (or some such necessary event). If the climbers are simply doing it for fun or profit, I find it hard to arouse much sympathy about their imminent fall. But TOUCHING THE VOID drew me in and held my attention surprisingly well. Yes, these guys are doing it for fun (and because no one else has climbed this particular peak in Peru). But the combo documentary/narrative style is unique, the writing and direction intelligent, and--most interesting of all--the filmmakers have the ability to keep you in the mind and emotions of the fallen climber as he tirelessly, painfully makes his way back to civilization. This is an endurance test for both character and viewer, but it's one that's worth the trip.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.81)
131 Votes
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