Touching the Void (2003)

Directed by Kevin Macdonald

I love documentaries, byah! This was a truly awesome tale, loved every minute of it. As an amateur adventurer myself, I dream of days atop majestic peaks and the thrill of both nature and the challenge to get to the remote and beautiful locations. Half of the fun of it is the challenge of getting there and knowing you are one of the few who have trekked the difficult route and seen the awesome beauty nature has to offer. Lucky for me, however, I have never pushed myself so hard, challenged myself to the edge of death as Simon Yates and Joe Simpson did on their rock climbing trip to Peru. Their goal? Become the first to ascend the difficult west face of Siula Grande in Peru.

They were cocky, but one must be confident in order to accomplish something so difficult. They were young, but they were also quite experienced climbers. They succeed in their task of summitting from the the difficult West face of the mountain, but the struggle begins as they start to descend the mountain, something they note is often the most difficult part of climbing. I will refrain from revealing the truly awesome story that makes the film, and instead simply talk about the awesome filmmaking in the film as well. It is one thing for a documentary to have a great story, and this one does, but a good story can only be taken so far without great filmmaking. Kevin Macdonald is the perfect guy to head this project in the right direction.

He has the vision to bring the story to life. As a crossover director (someone who has seen success in Fiction as well), Macdonald is able to visual the story, adding extra dimensions to the gripping tale told by Simon and Joe. The imagination is a great tool for people to enjoy a story, but this story is so awesome, some visualizations help make the story believable, help to show how awful a circumstance these two went through. It helps that the two are really well spoken and are able to articulate their account with great detail. Sometimes you will find subjects unable to retell their harrowing tales, not here. It was such a vivid account that the next morning after watching the film, I was able to enthusiastically provide a summary to a colleague. I will say the same thing I did to her, I strongly recommend this film.

***1/2 – Great

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