Saturday, January 08, 2005

Movie Review: Touching the Void

Touching the Void is an incredible story of human endurance, courage, perseverance, and tenacity. In 1985, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates decided to climb the west face of the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. After 3 days they finally reached the 21,000 foot top after traversing dangerous snow powder formations. But coming down, disaster struck. Simpson fell and broke a leg by ramming is lower leg bone up into his knee cap. In order to continue down the mountain, Yates lowered him using a 300 foot rope one section at a time. They had run out of gas and couldn't melt water to drink so had to keep going even though darkness came. A snowstorm occurred and Simpson fell over the edge of a cliff. Yates was pulled slowly down the mountain and was afraid he was going to be pulled over the edge with both of them falling to their death. So he decided to cut the rope allowing Simpson to fall on his own to certain death. Incredibly, Simpson survived and managed to crawl back to base camp with no food, no water, and a broken leg. The film recreates their journey interspersed with contemporary interviews with the two men. One interesting aspect of the story is that Simpson, an atheist, discusses how he was brought up a Catholic and left the faith. He had always wondered whether, if he found himself in a crisis, he would return to God and pray for deliverance. He said it never entered his mind. It's a gripping, inspirational story. My Rating: **** out of 5 Best Review 'By the end of this white-knuckle movie, you stand in awe at the depth of man's will to survive. "Touching the Void" leaves you emotionally and physically spent, and grateful it was only a movie, not a mountain, you had to endure.' - David Ansen/Newsweek Worst Review 'It's true that the movie, arrested between documentary and drama, doesn't quite do justice to either medium: The actors playing Joe and Simon don't have anything like "lines" to simulate "drama," or even just "conversation," while the real guys often fall back on bland English understatement.' - David Edelstein/Slate Buy The Void from

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