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 within three days, 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 »
Commenting his descent deeper into the break, Joe says, "I didn't put a knot into the end of the rope. If there was nothing down there, I would fall, and it would be quick." Two minutes before (approx. at 54:30) he is throwing the end of the rope into that break, and as it falls, we see clearly that the knot is properly tied at the end. Just as safety rules prescribe. 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 »
Touching The Void is part Documentary, and part dramatic re-enactment. Real interviews of Joe and Simon are inter-cut with dramatic re-enactments of their disastrous climb. If this had been a straight-up documentary, told by only interviews, it would have been a moving story, but would have lacked something. If it had been a straight-up dramatic movie, with actors and special effects, it would have been thrilling, but still missing some realism. Combining Joe and Simon's first hand story with realistic recreations on location is what this story needed to be told in the most realistic and scary way. The re-enactment was done on location at Siula Grande, with stunt climbers and actors. Watching the story unfold just by seeing the events on film is exciting, but when you're hearing Joe and Simon narrating their thoughts on the actual events at the same time, you can't help but feel genuine terror and concern for them. Take the scene where Joe is hanging over the cliff, ready to die. You know that he did survive, because you're seeing and hearing him talk about it in the movie, but it's his words that ground you in the moment. I've never heard a person talk about what it's like waiting to die, let alone have a visual image to go along with their words. I can honestly say that I was terrified for him, even knowing the outcome. And there are a dozen other scenes that produce the same effect. The majority of this film is made up of hopeless moments. Hearing Joe and Simon tell their story makes you believe it's hopeless, because that's how they actually felt at the time. This movie is very heavy, and almost as draining as an actual mountain descent would be. Touching The Void is as unique, powerful, and terrifying as any film I've seen in years.
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