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Touching the Void (2004)


Average Rating: 8.1/10
Reviews Counted: 138
Fresh: 129
Rotten: 9

Critics Consensus: Gripping even though the outcome is known.

Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 40
Fresh: 37
Rotten: 3

Critics Consensus: Gripping even though the outcome is known.


Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 10,507



Movie Info

In 1985, two adventurous young mountaineers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, set off to climb the treacherous west face of the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. They were experienced climbers, and climbed "Alpine-style," climbing the mountain in "one great push," without setting up ropes or base camps ahead of time. After dealing with a snowstorm and some dangerous climbing over powder formations, they reached the summit (about 21,000 feet) on the third day. The climb down proved to be far more … More

R (for language)
Documentary , Sports & Fitness , Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By:
Joe Simpson (II)
In Theaters:
Jun 15, 2004
Box Office:
IFC Films - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Touching the Void

All Critics (146) | Top Critics (42) | Fresh (129) | Rotten (9) | DVD (13)

Touching the Void leaves you emotionally and physically spent, and grateful it was only a movie, not a mountain, you had to endure.

March 26, 2007
Top Critic

Awesome and harrowing.

Full Review… | March 26, 2007
Top Critic

As a meditation on extreme human endeavour, character, friendship and the mysteries revealed by facing death, it provides much food for thought.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Most movies of this type re-create the action far from the actual scene of the crime, but Macdonald has invented a new subgenre: a docudrama in which the docu and the drama are equally authentic.

Full Review… | August 7, 2004
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

The facts drop away, and it becomes impossible not to read the movie symbolically -- as a journey to the center of the earth, or farther still.

August 1, 2004
New Yorker
Top Critic

For a movie like this, touching the void just isn't enough. It has to touch the audience, too.

Full Review… | March 5, 2004
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Excruciatingly tense story of a terrible accident.

Full Review… | December 29, 2010
Common Sense Media

"Void" plummets into the nucleus of instinct and consciousness - survival a near-primordial pursuit beyond bravery or weakness. It concocts no comfort about what was gained, but stares in transfixed, unforgettable awe at the horror of all that was lost.

Full Review… | November 4, 2010

"Touching the Void" towers above the rest of that rarest of all film genres, the docudrama.

Full Review… | August 9, 2009

This harrowing, white-knuckle tale of human endurance and gut-wrenching dilemma mingles the dramatization of these events and interviews with both climbers into an unforgettable, sometimes comically deadpan nightmare.

Full Review… | August 7, 2008
Sacramento News & Review

A slow starter which builds into a chilling depiction of the agonising disintegration of body and mind as they are exposed to the elements.

Full Review… | April 1, 2006
Empire Magazine

About a primal war waged by man against both himself and the natural world that surrounds him.

Full Review… | May 4, 2005
Lessons of Darkness

It's certainly a far better thriller than anything Hollywood has churned out lately.

Full Review… | March 5, 2005
NYC Film Critic

This is a gripping tale of courage and survival with gorgeous cinematography.

Full Review… | October 7, 2004

With his new film Macdonald has achieved, if not physical elevation, then at least spiritual soaring.

Full Review… | October 6, 2004

Illustrates the inherent human instinct to self-preserve.

Full Review… | June 28, 2004
Window to the Movies

Forget those Hollywood movies about extreme sports. MacDonald...has created a thrilling picture about a high-risk sport based on a true story.

Full Review… | June 22, 2004

A combinação de depoimentos e reencenações extremamente realistas transformam este "docudrama" em um filme tenso, emocionante e inspirador.

June 21, 2004
Cinema em Cena

if you've considered heading for the high ground, the movie might steer you toward a less taxing hobby -- perhaps chainsaw-juggling or organizing piranha water ballets.

Full Review… | May 22, 2004
Kalamazoo Gazette

If I said this is about the adventures of three guys on a mountain, you'd probably go to the next page. But if I said it will have you on the edge of your seat, you might go.

Full Review… | May 18, 2004
Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)

Forget Cast Away. Forget Alive. Touching the Void may be the most harrowing, dazzling, haunting survival story ever filmed.

Full Review… | April 22, 2004
Decent Films Guide

Audience Reviews for Touching the Void


Mixing interviews with the real participants and reenactments of the event, this documentary/docudrama tells the story of a mountain-climbing pair struggling to survive after one of them breaks his leg.
It takes a while for this film to get interesting -- about forty-five minutes. And once it does, it's a decent survival story along the lines of 127 Hours.
However, I found the reenactments to be trite because they didn't add much to the story the interviewees told, and the story the interviewees told isn't unique in their language or revelation about their characters. I guess what I'm saying is that I wish the film had found a middle ground in which the reenactments could show, not tell, and the interviews could teach us more about who these people really are and what it takes to survive such an ordeal. The one exception to this is Joe's line: "You gotta keep making decisions, even if they're wrong decisions, you know. If you don't make decisions, you're stuffed."
Overall, as survival stories go, Touching the Void is good but not great.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

"You gotta make decisions. You gotta keep making decisions, even if they're wrong decisions, you know. If you don't make decisions, you're stuffed."

The true story of two climbers and their perilous journey up the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985.

The simplest of words can sometimes convey far more than the most elaborate action scenes. This runs counter to the whole 'a picture is worth a thousand words', yet is nonetheless true. This film is a docudrama about two young British mountaineers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, who in 1985 decided to become the first men to ever scale a treacherous Andean peak in Peru called Siula Grande. They left for their task with a third climber who was to wait at their base camp- Richard Hawking.

The film documents the weeklong adventure Joe and Simon had. The first three days were rather uneventful, and the duo reached the summit. It was on the way down that trouble hit. Freak storms were the first augur of bad things to come. Then Joe broke his leg and Simon was left to innovate a technique to lower his partner down the mountainside in 150 foot increments. Then, a second accident befell the duo. In a blizzard, Simon lowered Joe over an overhang that hung over a massive crevasse. When Joe could not signal what had occurred Simon was left in the precarious position of being unable to lift his partner back, and slowly being dragged down the face himself. After a few hours with no signal from Joe, Simon made a fateful decision to cut the rope to Joe, assuming he had died and was a dead weight, lest he face sure death as well.

Joe fell into the crevasse, where he dangled for hours. The next morning, a shaken Simon looked in vain, and assumed his partner had died. Simon made it back to the base camp, nearly dead from frostbite, and needed a few days to recover physically and emotionally with Richard. Joe, meanwhile, after much frustration, lowered himself into the crevasse and made his way out, then spent several days painfully eking his way down the mountain with an improvised splint, over glaciers and rock fields. The last night that Simon and Richard were at camp they heard Joe's cries and were shocked that he survived, this is a terrific film as documentary and adventure. A viewer can understand why these adventurers do what they do, as well as recoil from it. Watching Joe Simpson narrate his tale you can see him do both at once, sometimes. It's in those fleeting moments that the viewer gets why this film was.

Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

I had no idea of the places I was going to go. I'll spoil the first 15 minutes: they already reach the top. The "void?" That's touched on the way down. Halfway into the movie, I couldn't see how everyone is alive to tell the tale. The three men involved in this story masterfully narrate their perspectives, bravely offering us an intimate look into their (our) sometimes-unflattering human nature. It is clear from 18 years of telling this story that they know just what we want to know, and they know just how to tell it. They are still emotional -- it seems likely that they suffer from some level of post-traumatic stress. Kevin Macdonald did a perfect job recreating the events and putting us right into the chaos of their experience. I am in awe.

Matthew Slaven
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer

An incredible story depicted in this spectacular documentary and whatever your views on this adrenalin seeking mission are, nothing can take away the shear guts and determination for survival in the conditions faced.

The dilema in this true life story of course presents at the point of 'Would you have cut the rope?' Truth be told, I guess none of us know that for sure, but what I was impressed with was Simon's honesty in sharing his true thoughts of that time.

A truly incredible tale and the special features are certainly worth a look.

Lady D'arbanville

Super Reviewer

Touching the Void Quotes

Joe Simpson:
Bloody hell, I'm going to die to Boney M.
– Submitted by David S (2 years ago)

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