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Touching the Void

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Joe Simpson and Simon Yates set out to climb the west face of the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. It was 1985 and the men were young, fit, skilled climbers. The west face, remote and treacherous, had not been climbed before. Following a successful three-and-a-half-day ascent, disaster struck. Simpson fell a short distance and broke several bones in his leg. With no hope of rescue, the men decided to attempt descent together with Yates lowering Simpson 300 feet at a time in a slow, painful process that could have potentially been deadly for both. One further misstep led to Yates unknowingly lowering his injured partner over the lip of a crevasse. With the gradient having gone from steep to vertical, he was no longer able to hold on. Certain they were about to be pulled jointly to their deaths, the only choice was to cut the rope. How Simpson survived the fall, and made it back to base camp is a story that will astound and inspire. In Touching the Void, Yates and! Simpson return to t

To describe Touching the Void as a mountaineering documentary would be to do this breathtaking drama an injustice. By intercutting narration from the climbers themselves with a nail-biting reconstruction of their remarkable adventure in the Peruvian Andes, the film has the best of both genres: the authentic stamp of factual storytelling and the edge-of-the-seat tension of a dramatic movie.

In 1985, two British mountaineers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, embarked on a daring--arguably reckless in the extreme--attempt to climb the previously unconquered mountain Siula Grande. A mixture of overconfidence in their own abilities and underestimation of the climb's difficulties brought them to grief after the successful slog to the summit. What follows is an often harrowing account of their perilous descent.

Based on Joe Simpson's gripping book, the film boasts glorious widescreen photography of Siula Grande and its notorious glacier. Actors take the place of the two climbers for close-ups, though Simpson did return to Peru in order to reenact parts of his dreadful crawl back down the ice. The story of Simpson's almost-superhuman fortitude has become legendary in climbing circles, and even for viewers uninterested in mountaineering, Touching the Void is an astonishing slice of real-life drama, magnificently retold. --Mark Walker

Special Features

  • Making-of featurette
  • "Return to Siula Grande" featurette
  • "What Happened Next" interview with Joe Simpson and Simon Yates

Product Details

  • Actors: Simon Yates, Joe Simpson, Brendan Mackey, Nicholas Aaron, Richard Hawking
  • Directors: Kevin Macdonald
  • Writers: Joe Simpson, David Darlow
  • Producers: Charles Furneaux, Gina Marsh, John Smithson, Paul Sowerbutts, Paul Trijbits
  • Format: AC-3, Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: June 15, 2004
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (385 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00020X94W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,657 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Touching the Void" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By S. Luster on July 27, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I've seen countless movies over the years but I don't think I've ever been moved in quite the same way that I was watching Touching the Void. I first saw Touching the Void in a small art-house theater in Chicago, the experience was closer to going to church than going to the movies. The entire theater was dead quiet throughout the film but you could feel the tension throughout the room. After it was over I felt like I had been holding my breath for an hour and a half - incredible when you consider that, this being a documentary, I more or less knew how it was going to end - and others I talked to in the theater expressed the same feelings. I wasn't sure if anything would be lost in the transfer to DVD, it wasn't. Not only was the story just as gripping on the small screen but the extra features made a perfect movie-going experience even better. People marching off to see I, Robot or whatever other dreck Hollywood throws at us have no idea what they're missing in this masterpiece.
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98 of 111 people found the following review helpful By James Carragher on May 26, 2004
Format: DVD
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.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 26, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
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.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mark J. Fowler VINE VOICE on October 7, 2004
Format: DVD
"Touching the Void" was also the name of the book that Joe Simpson wrote about the events shown in this astonishing movie. In 1985 Simon Yates and Joe went on one of those "we're going to do something that has never been done" kind of Mountain Climbs - up a previously unconquered approach up Siula Grande in the Andes.

My wife told me that the film wasn't at all what she was expecting, so it is perhaps worth describing the format of the film. A small film crew, a couple of actors and Joe and Simon themselves returned to Siula Grande in 2002. Richard Hawking, who maintained the base camp at the foot of Siula Grande while Joe and Simon went off on their death-defying climb, comes along as well and seems to have one of the most balanced viewpoints among the original three members. The movie intercuts interviews with Joe and Simon and Richard with footage shot for this movie with actors portraying them. The shots of the Andes and glaciers and icy crevaces are spectacular outdoor photography. The present day Joe, Simon and Richard tell an absolutely spell-binding story of heroism and perseverence and bravery.

Well before the end of the movie I found myself wondering how in the world Simon ever made it off that mountain, and he had by far the easier time of it. Joe's survival is one of the most incredible stories of human endurance you'll ever hear. Seeing that both Joe and Simon made it to the making of this movie removes some of the tension of "oh my goodness! will they make it!" but knowing the ultimate outcome doesn't relieve the edge-of-your-seat-white-knuckle tension of hearing this incredible story.

As a bonus there is additional footage of "what happens next" plus a mini-documentary on the making of the movie.
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