Movie Poster
Touching the Void
Kevin MacDonald
Brendan Mackey, Nicholas Aaron, Joe Simpson, Simon Yates, Richard Hawking
106 min.


Mountain climbing movies don't get a lot of respect. This is usually because they do not deserve any. Touching the Void is the exception (or the Xception, maybe). It is a very good movie, and it is also amazing from a production point-of-view. Shot entirely (except for the talking-head segments) on location in the Peruvian Andes, the actors spend much of the film perched on the side of a mountain, but frequently the camera is right there with them. Though I am sure they had helicopters and enormous safety contraptions, this still qualifies as an almost Herzogian feat of extreme filmmaking.

There are some pretty nifty tricks in Void, too. The story follows two British guys up a never-before-climbed peak in South America (this all actually happened), and follows them on their difficult trek back down. The talking heads are different actors than those who play the same characters in the re-enactments, making it seem like it is the actual people recollecting their thoughts and actions. Despite the heads talking, the movie never gets talk-y in any sense, staying firmly on the drama end of its docu-drama breeding. When one of the characters, going slowly insane from dehydration, gets a song caught in his head, the film briefly and effectively dives into surreality.

Pat Jackson