Touching the Void

2003 | Documentary (Docudrama) | 106 minutes | English


In 1985, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, both experienced mountaineers, set off to climb the treacherous west face of the 21,000-foot Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. It’s not surprising  this face of the mountain has never been climbed:    It features straight verticals and razor- sharp ridges. Joe and Simon decide to try the “one push” method of climbing, reducing gear to a minimum, and climbing up and down without stopping. The weather is good going up and they reach the top in three days. However, as experienced climbers, Joe and Simon know that 80% of climbing accidents take place on the way down. And so, it happened.  During a storm, on their descent, Joe breaks his leg. Tied together with a rope, Simon  tries to bring Joe to safety. However, with frostbitten hands and suffering from dehydration,  Simon finds he no longer can hold Joe. He either must cut the rope,  let Joe fall, and face sure death or Simon can gather one  last bit of strength and  pull Joe to safety. If Simon can’t do this, both may die.  Such is the nightmare decision often faced by even the most experienced, well-conditioned climbers. This was the decision Simon faced. 

Brendan Mackey (Joe Simpson) / Nicholas Aaron (Simon Yates)
Why Stream This Film?
Why did these two courageous men decide to climb the vertical surface of a 22,000 foot mountain, endure life-threatening storms, pass dangerous crevices, suffer frostbite, dehydration, and a shortage of food, water, and supplies? Well, we’re lucky. We can witness this awe-inspiring adventure from the comfort of a theater or on our home TV.   
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 94%
  • Metacritic Score: 82
  • British Academy Film Awards: Winner, Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film
  • Seattle Film Critics Awards: Winner, Best Documentary
TOUCHING the VOID is the most harrowing movie about mountain climbing I have seen. I didn’t take a single note during this film. I simply sat there before the screen, enthralled, fascinated, and terrified. TOUCHING the VOID was, for me, more of a horror film than any actual horror film could ever be.
Roger Ebert

TOUCHING the VOID is a real life drama that David Lean would have loved. It had the audience on the edge of their seats, lips parted, knuckles whitened. It’s a very real, scary kind of vertigo to experience on the screen.
Peter Bradshaw

The Guardian

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