This is the story of two mountain climbers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, who attempted an ascent of the West face of Siula Grande in Peru in 1985. It was a difficult climb, but they made it. It was on the way back down that their troubles really started.
Touching the Void is the documentary reconstruction of their climb and descent, based on Joe Simpson’s book. It uses actors in the reconstruction, but the narration is provided by Simpson and Yates themselves. Occasionally the film cuts to head shots of them talking, to emphasize the strength of their emotions as they remember the events.
It’s a stunning story, and an extraordinary film. The beautiful cinematography and constrasts starkly with the loneliness, terror, and pain they faced on the mountain. Simpson’s emotional journey to the brink of madness and despair–and beyond–is stripped of heroism and the sentimentality it can inspire, and instead portrayed with naked honesty. It’s intense, harrowing, touched with humour, and gives whole new meaning to the word “gripping”. A must-see.