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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
During the first part of the closing credits (before the crawl), the credits are accompanied by black-and-white pictures showing the three men's journey back into civilization; the final picture is of Joe in the hospital. See more »
Breathtaking Andean photography ... and a will to survive
Awe-inspiring work by director Kevin Macdonald takes us with a minimum of fuss to a corner of the Andes in Peru for this epic tale of endurance against the elements. After what appears to be a relatively rapid, routine conquering of a 22,000 foot peak, we are left contemplating what might be in store to fill out the rest of the film. Suffice to say we are told that eighty per cent of climbing accidents occur on the descent. Harrowing times in the extreme soon present themselves, with amazing camera work accompanied by stark human emotions as life-affecting decisions have to be made in the harshest of conditions. There are only three actors in this reconstruction of an actual climb made in the 1980s. The original climbers themselves personally add to the screenplay at appropriate moments, to what I believe is just the right extent for maximum effect. We are made to wonder what drives a couple of fit 25-year-olds to climb to such heights, in such conditions, with an insufficient gas supply, no oxygen, and no backup team. But that is sometimes the reckless nature of young people that age.
The viewer is left in no uncertain mind about the might of nature versus the insignificance of human effort. This is reinforced in most spectacular fashion by the use of zoom photography, underlining the sheer size of the Andes mountains. What does make the difference, though, is the strength of the human will, particularly when it comes to a matter of very survival. In this case we are given to believe this is largely driven by the fear of dying alone, but I found myself trying to identify what other motives might have been present in such dire circumstances. Considering the semi-documentary nature of the film, and the conditions under which it was made, I cannot rate Touching the Void less than 9 out of 10. It had me on the edge of my seat until the final credits.
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