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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: March 16: Touching the Void


March 16: Touching the Void

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

  Touching the Void is a documentary that tells the story of one man's struggle to not only survive the harsh climate of the Siula Grande, one of the tallest peaks in Peru, but to descend the mountain with a broken leg and absolutely no food or water. The documentary uses a combination of reenactments and interviews with Joe Simpson, the man who survived, and Simon Yates, his companion climber who chose to go on without Joe after he thought he was dead. You know right off the bat that Joe does indeed survive, but his harrowing and gripping tale is still as suspenseful and dramatic as if you didn't know the outcome. 

Just like knowing he survives because someone had to host the Oscars. 

   Touching the Void is filmed exceptionally well, capturing the beauty and the terror of the Peruvian Andes. The reenactments are not your average "I Know Who Killed Me" kind of dramatizations and the actors, makeup, and effects are just as good as any big budget movie. The film keeps your attention for its entire 106 minutes and you're sucked into Joe's story of survival. The reenactments have very little dialogue, so the majority of the film's "script" is from the narration of Joe and Simon explaining their journey. Through this, the film gives a very personal insight into the mind of a man on the brink of death and his reflections on his life. A man's spiral into helplessness and a madness of isolation are on display, and the further the story chugs along, the more lost you become in the reenactments, as they almost merge into the reality. 

   Overall, Touching the Void is quite amazing. It effortlessly blends two genres into one, creating a new genre of storytelling that is so genuine and emotional. It's a film that makes you think about life and if you, yourself, would have what it takes to survive at the brink of death. The soundtrack is just as haunting and beautiful as the film and the film leaves you breathless, in a state of self reflection. Filmed with reverence of the men's survival, and the peak and nature, itself, Touching the Void puts you in a trance and lures you in to share their courageous story. 

The Good:
the perfect combination of factual storytelling and fictional reenactments 
The Better:
as opposed to a simple presentation of the events that unfolded, the film captures the audience and makes us relate to the survivors
The Best:
beautiful camerawork that shows the beauty of nature while reminding us of its many dangers

Overall: 8.7/10


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