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Touching the Void
IMDB Rating: 8.1/10 from MG6 votes
Release: 6 May 2004 (Netherlands) /

Touching the Void

Genre: Adventure, Documentary, Drama
Director: David Darlow,
Stars: , , , , ,
Synopsis: In the mid-80's two young climbers attempted to reach the summit of Siula Grande in Peru; a feat that had previously been attempted but never achieved. With an extra man looking after base camp, Simon and Joe set off to scale the mount in one long push over several days. The peak is reached, however on the descent Joe falls and breaks his leg. Despite what it means, the two continue with Simon letting Joe out on a rope for 300 meters, then descending to join him and so on. However when Joe goes out over an overhang with no way of climbing back up, Simon makes the decision to cut the rope. Joe falls into a crevasse and Simon, assuming him dead, continues back down. Joe however survives the fall and was lucky to hit a ledge in the crevasse. This is the story of how he got back down. Written by bob the moo

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Critic Reviews

In the mid-80's two young climbers attempted to reach the summit of Siula Grande in Peru - a feat that had previously been attempted but never achieved. With an extra man looking after base camp, Simon and Joe set off to scale the mount in one long push over several days. The peak is reached, however on the descent Joe falls and breaks his leg. Despite what it means, the two continue with Simon letting Joe out on a rope for 300 feet, then descending to join him and so on. However when Joe goes out over an overhang with no way of climbing back up, Simon makes the decision to cut the rope. Joe falls into a crevice and Simon, assuming him dead, continues back down. Joe however survives the fall and was lucky to hit a ledge in the crevice. This is the story of how he got back down.

Yet another reason to lament the closing of Film Four's doors, this film is the cinematic equivalent of sitting listening to someone tell you an amazing story in their own words. The film is acted out in dramatised scenes but it is Joe's and Simon's words over the top that really will keep you hanging on. The dramatised scenes though, are still wonderful, it is very easy to forget that this was not somehow filmed at the time, not only do they look very, very real but they also look spectacular; when Joe talks about the imposing crevice he was in, the pictures on screen did much better at translating that into visuals than my non-mountaineering imagination could have done.

The two actors in the roles of Joe and Simon do a great job; like I said, it is very easy to forget they are actors or that this is a replay for the camera. However the real people are more interesting and it is they that drive the film. To hear Joe talk about what he did and felt puts so much more bone on the story that any Hollywood version could have managed. He is a great guy and I can only imagine what he went through. Simon on the other hand is more guarded. He never really goes below the facts, whereas I know he has issues underneath as he apparently was not as calm as he is on camera during the making of the film. The film ends with some captions - one of which being that Simon came under great criticism for cutting the rope from other climbers. However the talking heads bit never even touches the surface of what Simon had to go through after they all got home - in a way that would have been just as interesting a part of the film as what Joe went through.

As the story unfolds it is impossible not to sit shaking your head in amazement. At the start I was like everyone else 'why would you do this stuff for fun' etc, and I still think that, but the story is so gripping that it is impossible to think of anything else. The running time is generous and allows Simon to tell his story properly, it is amazing and the sense of impossible odds and the sheer pain involved is brought to the audience very well - even with a handful of people in the audience gasps and 'ah's' were very audible. Overall this film is more dramatic than any Hollywood drama I have seen in a long time. It is not without flaw but it is difficult to sit and just watch it - I was enthralled by it, a true dramatic human story that never let me get bored or distracted. By the end, Simon has put forward his many emotions so well that I was very moved. The only think that would have made this film better would have been a bit more of searching inside himself by Joe in the final 15 minutes, in my heart I doubt if I could ever forgive myself and I wonder how he did or if he did.

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