Touching the Void (2003)

touching the void poster 2003 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Amazing story of survival

Weird combination of documentary/recreation

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Touching the Void

Studio:  IFC

Genre(s):  Documentary/Action/Adventure/Drama

Release Date(s):  September 5, 2003 (Toronto International Film Festival)/December 12, 2003

MPAA Rating:  R


Hey…getting down is going to be a breeze!

In 1985, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates attempt something that had never been done before.  Yates and Simpson set out to scale Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes for the first time.  While the journey up goes as planned, disaster strikes on the descent when Simpson’s leg is broken and Yates is forced to cut the rope and leave Simpson for dead.  The adventure becomes a story of survival and how both men survived is revealed.

Directed by Kevin MacDonald, Touching the Void is based on the non-fiction account by Joe Simpson released in 1988.  The film is a documentary drama which features reenactments of the failed descent performed by actors.  The movie was critically acclaimed and frequently makes the “Best Of” lists of documentaries.


This has not been a good vacation

Touching the Void is a strange film.  Part documentary and part action-adventure, the movie’s two parts work together as a great drama.  The danger and thrills lead to an interesting debate on what these two climbers should have done and if the right choice was made.

The movie comes down to a basic morality question…should Simon Yates have cut the rope?  If Yates had not cut the rope, both hikers would have died, but by cutting the rope, Simpson and Yates happened to survive.  Yates broke the rule of climbing but cutting the rope and received a ton of criticism from climbers though both climbers came to realize that it was the only reason that they survived (Yates would have eventually died and wouldn’t have been there when Simpson escaped.

The acting is quite strong.  Much of the movie is documentary with talking heads, but the other half is a reenactment of the events by Brendan Mackey as Joe Simpson and Nicholas Aaron as Simon Yates and many felt Mackey should have received more credit for the portrayal of the injured Simpson.


The real people portrayed in 1985

The movie also looks fantastic.  The scenery of the Andes Mountains captures the immense danger but also shows the beauty of the land.  The film feels dangerous and the makeup combines with the great acting to really feel the torture of the situation.

Touching the Void is a documentary, an adventure, and a drama.  It has all the thrills of a real action movie, and it is hard to remember that it really did happen.  The story of survival is something that everyone can enjoy and reminds us that nature is the real boss.  The men may have conquered the mountain, but the mountain got them in the end.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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