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Customer Review

37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST..., June 26, 2004
This review is from: Touching the Void [VHS] (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.
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.
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