Jean W. from JORDANVILLE, NY Reviewed on 3/13/2015...
interesting and informative. learned a lot about mountain climbing
Harrowing Just to Watch
James Carragher | New York | 05/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My son and I came out of the theater exhausted just by watching this quasi-documentary reenactment of the 1985 ascent up an unclimbed route on the Siula Grande glacier in Peru. The film's impact is heightened by the excellent cutting between the actor/climbers and Simon Yates and Joe Simpson, who recall their actions, reactions, and feelings nearly 20 years later. Disaster strikes on the descent, where -- as one of them notes -- "80 percent of accidents happen." After Simpson breaks his leg in a fall, Yates -- against impossible odds -- continues to try and get him down. Finally, Simpson falls again, off the edge of the mountain. After hours of hanging on to what feels like dead weight, Yates cuts the rope to prevent himself from being gradually pulled into the void. Simpson's survival and return to base camp is nothing short of miraculous, suggesting that man is never more tenacious about life than when he is closest to losing it. Though far different in its circumstances, his story rivals that of Shackleton and the Endurance in Antartica three quarters of a century before. An underlying issue, addressed briefly in the film, is whether Yates should have cut the rope. Apparently some other climbers criticized him for doing so, but Simpson always defended his action. I have no idea how well the technical aspects of Touching the Void are done, but to this mostly earthboard amateur, they looked brilliantly and truly shot. Danger and beauty are scarcely separable in Touching the Void. When you are not immersed in the terror of Yates' and, especially, Simpson's plight, the frigid beauty of the glacier, the colors within its crevasses are glorious. A story of recklessness and great determination, superbly told, filled with many "how did they ever shoot that?" moments, Touching the Void must be seen."
Impressive and truly incredible!
Michael Meredith | St. Louis, MO United States | 03/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There aren't enough "mosts" and "-ests" to describe this movie. It's the story of two men, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, climbing the west face of the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. After making the summit, Joe slips on the descent and shatters his leg. Faced with certain death on the mountain, they attempt to descend by having Simon lower his injured friend in 300 foot increments (the length of their available rope). This works for a while until Joe slides over a precipice and is left hanging in mid-air. Unaware of whether his friend is alive or dead, Simon's only course of action is to eventually cut the rope. Amazingly enough, Joe survived not only the fall over the ledge and the subsequent fall to the bottom of a deep crevasse. While Simon fought the elements and continued down (a harrowing tale in its own right), Joe managed to crawl out of the crevasse and after a four day ordeal reach their base camp. Somehow it seems trite to call this an adventure, and yet ordeal doesn't fully describe peril of it all. Joe and Simon themselves provide the narration and context with an almost unworldly matter of fact manner that only adds to the experience You "know" they survived! The ordeal is painstakingly recreated with actors subbing for Joe and Simon as they offer their own stories and perspectives. Beyond the sheer drama of this film, there is some of the most impressive cinematography that you'll ever see. At times the camera will pan back from a relatively close shot to a distance of a mile or more away, leaving the climber little more than a tiny blur on the wall. It's a fantastic film that will truly leave you breathless."
A test of will, strength, and endurance
S. Calhoun | Chicago, IL United States | 02/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"TOUCHING THE VOID is a stunning and suspenseful documentary of two mountaineering friends who are confronted with the climb of their lives in South America. In 1985, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates set out to climb the west face of Siula Grande, a remote 21,000 peak in the Peruvian Andes. Joe and Simon are young, ambitious, and ready to take on the world. Each enjoyed the solace of mountain climbing and its thrills and adventures. After conquering various Alpine mountains they turn their attention to a particular mountain in Peru that had never been climbed before. After three treacherous days they reach the summit, but little did they know that their adventure just began. The pivotal moment occurred when Joe suddenly fell and suffered a serious, painful broken leg. Certain that his fate was sealed Joe expects Simon to leave him behind. But Simon did everything he could to help Joe, which included the slow and tedious process of going down the mountain inch by inch while on their back or side. But disaster struck again when Joe became suspended in air after falling over an edge. Simon, in an act that will cause controversy and alarm, cut the rope that sent Joe tumbling into a crevasse without much hope for rescue. Meanwhile, Simon returns to base camp thinking that Joe never survived the fall. He is full of grief and fear. But what he doesn't know is that Joe indeed did not die and is slowly climbing down the mountain on his own. He suffers extreme pain, dehydration, frostbite, and fatigue.This film contains narration by Joe and Simon with reenactment footage that creates a powerful and emotional experience for the viewer. Although it is obvious that Joe has survived the ordeal, one can't help wondering how this can be true. I was certain that he would die on the mountain alone in his pain and suffering. What makes this a strong film is that much time and effort was dedicated to detailing the psychological drama that Joe suffered since his leg was broken. As a result the viewer is given a frank look into his thoughts, emotions, and fears. It was certainly a glimpse which is difficult to shake. It is easy for the audience to become "involved" while watching this film. Many people squirm in their seats and gasp out loud and these two men rehash their story. The stunning cinematography and audio results in the audience being sweep away in the drama. Heck, there were many moments when I thought I was on the mountain too. One doesn't need to be an expert at mountain climbing to enjoy this film. Any novice will fast become interesting in the fate of these two men. I must more appreciate the risks involved in this sport, and would highly recommend this film to others."
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST...
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 06/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film, based upon the international best seller of the same name, recounts an amazing tale of courage, fortitude, and the will to live, despite dire circumstances. About twenty or so years ago, British mountaineers Joe Simpson and his then climbing partner, Simon Yates, attempted to ascend a perilous section of the Peruvian Andes, Suila Grande, a majestic 21,000 foot peak that was nearly inaccessible. These two intrepid climbers tackled the mountain alpine style and, surprisingly, reached the summit, the first mountaineers to do so. After reaching the summit, however, tragedy struck on their descent, when Joe, up over 19,000 feet, fell and hit a slope at the base of a cliff, breaking his right leg and rupturing his right knee. Beneath him was a seemingly endless fall to the bottom. When Simon reached him, they both knew that the chances for getting Joe off the mountain were virtually non-existent. Yet, Simon Yates fashioned a daring plan to do just that. For the next few hours, they worked in tandem through a snowstorm, and managed a risky, yet effective, way of trying to lower Joe down the mountain. Several thousand feet down, Joe, who was roped to Simon, dropped off an edge and found himself now free hanging in space, about six feet away from an ice wall, unable to reach it with his axe. The edge was over hung above him and the dark outline of a yawning crevasse lay directly below him. Joe could not get up, and Simon could not get down. In fact, Joe's weight began to pull Simon off the mountain. So, Simon was finally forced to do the only thing he could do under the circumstances. He cut the rope, believing that he was consigning his friend to certain death. Therein lies the tale. It is at this point in the film that the real story begins. What happens next is sure to make one believe in miracles. This is an absorbing, beautifully shot film. The story is told in a sort of unique docu-drama style, with actors re-enacting moments in this fantastic, true life tale of survival, while Joe Simpson and Simon Yates narrate what happened on that mountain. It is an absorbing piece of cinema, as it presents a somewhat novel and fresh way of telling this amazing survival story. The cinematography is magnificent, as the film is shot in the Peruvian Andes, where the incident occurred. Moreover, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates do the actual climbing scenes in the film. All armchair climbers will thrill to the sound of their crampons and axes digging into the ice. My only suggestion is that one read the book before viewing the film."