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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
At the end of the movie, there's a written line claiming that Simon faced "strong criticism" from the climbing community after his return to England. This claim has been repeated in several press statements and reviews, but it's not correct. What really happened is that, one month after his return in Europe, Simon went climbing in the Alps, unaware that the Daily Mail newspaper had published a wildly incorrect version of the Siula story, implying that Simon had tried to kill Joe. This was of course absurd, and the British climbing community dismissed it immediately as nonsense. However, back home Simon discovered that a small group of senior members of the Mount Everest Foundation (the body that manages founding for climbing expeditions in the Greater Ranges) had misjudged the story and now wanted Simon excluded in the future from the MEF funds - a move that could basically kill Simon's climbing career. At this point however, Joe Simpson had a correct version of the Siula story published in a respected climbing magazine, and the whole issue was cleared. However, in the DVD commentary, Joe Simpson himself clearly says that Simon came under much criticism after returning home, and that he wrote Touching the Void to defend Simon. See more »
When Joe reaches the bottom of the crevasse (00:59:57) and starts crawling on his stomach towards the sunlight, you can clearly see the blue helmet of another person. See more »
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 »
Beautiful scenery and excellent cinematography highlight this true-life story of two young adventurers who, in 1985, attempt to be the first climbers to reach the top of imposing Siula Grande, in Peru. The two actual climbers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, narrate the story, while two stand-in actors re-enact the climbing.
A big part of the film is Joe's quest merely to survive, once he becomes separated from Simon. Toward this objective, he calls forth inner strength in the form of two mental processes: first, make a decision and then act on it; second, set small goals or targets. During his ordeal a part of him keeps pushing: "You have to do this, this, and this, if you're going to get there; come on, keep moving, keep moving; right, get up, and do it again".
In a docudrama like this, acting ability is not that important. What is important is the cinematography. The mountain scenery is spectacular. The camera also captures visual perspective, by backing away from the two climbers, or Joe alone in the second half, to reveal how small and insignificant they are against the towering mountain face, or lost within the vast expanse of a huge glacier, peppered with a maze of dangerous crevasses.
The story is certainly harrowing. And I admire how Joe kept going, in the face of such adversity. However, I must say that overall I was not impressed with Simpson or Yates, both of whom came across in the film and in the DVD special features as overly ambitious, opportunistic, and egotistical. Joe as much as admits it: "We didn't give a damn about anyone else or anything else, and we just wanted to climb the world ..." This kind of cavalier attitude is not uncommon among participants in extreme sports, many of whom participate less for the adventure than for the opportunity to set records and make money.
"Touching The Void" is a great story of survival set amid the majestic splendor of the mountains of Peru. The only thing that would have made the story even better is if the two actual climbers had not been so arrogant. Overconfidence, born of an inflated sense of self-importance, almost cost them their lives.
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