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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

This is not to be missed and you don't have to be a mountaineer to appreciate it..

Author: Casino-Royale from United Kingdom
26 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Mountaineer Joe Simpson, famous not only for his survival on Siula Grande in Peru, but for his subsequent books including Touching The Void, Storms Of Silence and The Beckoning Silence, takes a journey to the Eiger to re-trace the steps of Bavarian mountaineer Toni Kurz who along with his three companions Andreas Hinterstoisser, Willy Angerer and Edi Rainer attempted a first ascent of the north face of the Eiger in 1936. Although it's not the tallest mountain in the world (4,107 m) or the most difficult the Eiger has a calling to all mountaineers that is hard to describe, but an obsession it can definitely become.

On the way up Hinterstoisser found the key to the mountain when he set across an 100' sheer black rock, allowing the rest of the team to climb safely across (later in memory of his brilliant climb it was called the 'Hinterstoisser Traverse'). Unbeknownst to them at the time though to get back across the traverse they should have left the rope in place. After Angerer was hit in the head during a rock/ice fall, they had to abandon the summit and help their injured friend down the face to the safety of the valley.

After Hinterstoisser was unable to get back across the traverse they had no choice but to abseil down. When an unexpected avalanche hits them 'like a tsunami' Hinterstossier falls 2000' to his death. Above him Kurz and Angerer also fall from the face but were stopped from falling all the way by the rope secured into the side of the mountain.

Angerer, the first of the remaining three to fall off the face, was strangled by his rope, Rainer's diaphragm was crushed by the weight of Kurz and Angerer's bodies and Kurz was left hanging mid-air unable to go up or down and at the mercy of the elements as he waited for rescue. A few hours later, in horrendous stormy conditions, rescuers arrived but they were unable to do anything at that time and told Kurz they would have to come back in the morning. He knew he was being abandoned and his heart breaking cries for them to stay would have lived with them for the rest of their lives. The next morning they came back and this is where the strength and human spirit is so evident in Kurz's determination to live.

This is a brilliantly told true story which has added impact due to the similar circumstances of Joe Simpson's near death in the Peruvian mountains where he believes that he 'should have died on a rope.' Superb photography by Jeremy Hewson and unbelievable performances by Roger Schali (Toni Kurz) Simon Anthamatten (Andreas Hinterstoisser) Dres Abegglen (Willy Angerer) and Cyrille Berthod (Edi Rainer) who re-enacted the climb and it's outcome. This is not to be missed and you don't have to be a mountaineer to appreciate the strength of the human spirit, the determination to overcome all odds that is so clearly on display here and the total sadness of the outcome.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

How to tell a story

Author: Mario Germani from Italy
24 November 2011

In this docu-movie, Joe Simpson shows how to tell a true story in a modern, breathtaking way. He gives a description of events from outside but also from the inside, climbing part of the mountain (the well-known Eiger) himself. He goes deep in the characters feelings, just by comparing their emotions with his own. A story about mountaineers and the man behind the climber.

Pretty influenced by the other awarded Simpson's movie "Touching the void", "The Beckoning Silence" is again a great narration about the risk, the hope, and the fragility of life.

If you want to understand what climb a mountain means you have to see it. If you want to understand what be human means you have to see it.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Draws the viewer in surprisingly well (SPOILERS)

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
23 February 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As a child it was the story of Tony Kurtz's attempt to climb the north face of the Eiger that first introduced Joe Simpson to the world of climbing. After his near-fatal accident in Peru, Simpson comes back to the story of Kurtz's mission and considers what he has in common with the climber who once inspired him. Using a mix of dramatic recreation and narration, Simpson tells the story of Kurtz's team and also attempts to do some parts of the original climb himself.

I'm not a climber and indeed am not good at even basic heights so I am not target audience for Simpson's books or the film adaptations thereof. Watching people die or nearly die while climbing for sport or fun always seems to me to be a waste of life, just as any death in a high-risk sport or hobby strikes me. This doesn't mean I think it is stupid to do it (we all take risks) but just that I do have this in the back of my head while watching this sort of story. I imagine it is maybe down to the individual but certainly the main thing I got from Kurtz's story was confirmation that I'm not cut out for this activity and I cannot relate to Simpson, who takes it as an inspiration to do it himself.

So the challenge with this is to make me, the casual viewer, buy into the adventure and be hooked by the story. It worked with Touching The Void and it works again here. Taking pretty much the same approach as that film did, The Beckoning Silence tells a fascinating and tragic story and does it in a way that will engage viewers even when the "why" issue is hanging around in the background. The recreation of the climb is good and avoids the hammy acting that some docu-dramas fall victim to. Simpson also goes to the Eiger for some of his narration but I'm not sure if something happened while he was there because the film makes very little use of this aspect and it could easily have done without it. Simpson's greater impact is as narrator to camera. He does well to bring his passion to the screen and convey it to the viewer – a big part of the film engaging me as it did.

Overall then this is a good film that will appeal to the majority of viewers who like Touching The Void. Of course those that see climbing as a pointlessly dangerous pursuit may struggle to get past this but mostly the film does well to engage and draw the viewer into the world as Simpson sees it.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:


Author: davidknight24 from United Kingdom
28 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This documentary could have easily failed. If it had been based on the original book then it would have encapsulated too many different ideas to be coherent. It has therefore concentrated on two specific themes.

The first is that of Joe Simpson's changing attitude towards the mountains and the Eiger specifically, from being able to enjoy and climb to that of withdrawing from the sport.

The second is a more specific event, the 1936 attempt by four climbers on the face. This is explored through reconstructions of the events, and by visits to certain parts of the route by Joe himself to explain the difficulties. Joe Simpson comes across as quiet and thoughtful throughout, and, through his previous experiences, is really able to empathise with the plight of the climbers, particularly Toni Kurz.

The technical work is smooth, with the camera shots and layout being very similar in style to "Touching the Void", which this documentary has been billed as the sequel to.

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Another magnificent Man v. Mountain where Mountain wins.

Author: RuthlessGoat from Front Range
25 February 2017

*This review contains spoilers*

The Docu-Movie Touching the Void is the Godfather of all mountain climbing movies. Just watching this movie turned Roger Ebert into a quivering, blubbering mess. Touching the Void is a Docu-drama based on the calamitous events that occurred when Joe Simpson and Simon Yates attempted to ascend and descend the Siula Grande in Peru. Beyond all odds, Joe Simpson somehow survived this ordeal where he was presumed to be dead, in a reenactment that must be seen to be believed. Joe lost 1/3 of his body weight and the injuries to his leg were so severe that they required multiple surgeries over a period of 2 years. He was told that he would be lucky to ever walk again, much less climb. He did walk again and he did climb. He also wrote a couple of books and made two mind-blowing documentaries about mountain climbing tragedies. The Beckoning Silence (2007) is one of them.

In The Beckoning Silence Joe Simpson traveled to the North Face of The Eiger to give an account of one of mountaineering's most deadly tragedies. This tragedy was the ill-fated expedition of Toni Kurz and his 3 companions in 1936. Joe Simpson methodically and carefully sets the stage for what will be a totally catastrophic revelation of horror midway through the documentary. Joe Simpson had been there before. Not at this exact time and place, but in about as a precarious and hopeless dilemma as you could ever rip from the bowels of an icy hell. I didn't want to watch it anymore. I wanted to just turn it off and look away, but I didn't. From the mid-point on, the viewer is riveted to this train wreck in the Alps, and yes, there is a train that plays a part in this real-life horror show.

After the nightmarish and harrowing ordeal that he went through in Peru, for Joe Simpson to even write about the disaster of Eiger is amazing, much less to make a documentary about it. It was even more astounding for him to actually climb this mountain to the point where these four men died…I just don't have the words to describe this. This guy has a set that would make John Holmes look like a eunuch, but that's another story. The re-enactment by the actors was superb, as well as excruciatingly painful to watch, as you already know the outcome. The unforgiving attributes of Mother Nature were well known, and never had they been more unsympathetic than with this alpine terrain and its weather. Mother Nature has no Fairness Doctrine, only the cold, hard physics of the atmosphere and its lapidary counterparts. Granite is hard, water freezes at 0 degrees C., it is cold and slick, and gravity asserts itself every single time.

Inches and details count, and Toni Kurz was only yards away from his rescuers when a knotty problem sealed his destiny with The Grim Reaper. I know that I have previously shown disdain for mountain climbers, and this outcome was very hard to watch and to accept, but it happened. This event had a significant impact on Joe Simpson and helped shape his life. "Why him and not me?" has never been a more soul-piercing reflection for Joe, who also dangled and danced with death at the end of a rope, while staring into the void below. If you believe in God, destiny, benevolent karma and fair play, don't watch this movie. If you want to see what nature is capable of, with with no malevolent intent whatsoever, watch this documentary.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Info on DVD version

Author: Graham Bentley from United Kingdom
3 June 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The DVD version of this film also contains a spoiler within the extras ~ although I can forgive the great man himself as Chris Bonningtons interview is as honest and emotional as Joe's. In that interview Chris describes his own experience as photo journalist and reporter on the first 'Eiger Direct' expedition in the early 60's, when a climbing friend, John Harlin dies. This leads onto to some short research to find that John Harlins son makes an attempt on the Eiger himself, 40 years after his fathers death, in a film called 'The Alps' which I haven't seen yet but believe has the most breathtaking footage.

Also, within the extras on the DVD is 'the making of', but in a way, whilst its interesting, I feel it kind of detracts from the superb acting and shooting in the the main film.

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