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tomtom

TR: Touching the Void

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I'd rather picture the olson twins than catturd.

 

Reading the book is one thing; describing the scenes in the movie entirely another.

Picture this moon.gif. I guarantee there isn't anything I could describe that will take away your enjoyment of that movie. I hope you enjoy it.

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HAHAHAHA

 

The movie was great of course! thumbs_up.gif I enjoyed it thoroughly. Cheers to all involved bigdrink.gif

 

I also quite enjoyed Charles Mudede's review of it (pan I should say). Very funny yellaf.gif I hear where he is coming from. I know my own motivations for climbing and back country skiing but this writer brilliantly exposes why most other people do not understand. I thought it was well "leveled" and full of restraint. The last line is total crap tho...

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Is there a link to the review? I've only seen the trailer and read an interview with the director about the location shooting...

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I'd rather picture the olson twins than catturd.

 

Reading the book is one thing; describing the scenes in the movie entirely another.

 

Yeah so I won't describe the scene where Simon tries to use nitro to get Joe out and then has to shoot some Shining Path terrorists with his bolt gun... fruit.gif

 

yellaf.gif

 

Then Tommy Caldwell and Beth Rodden rap over the ridge with the Ak-47s they took from the guys they pushed over the cliff and take out the guerrillas..

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I rather wonder why they picked this particular fellow to do the review. It should come as no surprise that a black African would be the least sympathetic to mountaineering, especially considering the climbers were British and Britain's colonial past in Africa.

 

--CBS

 

LIFE IS TOO SHORT

And Touching the Void Is Too Long

by Charles Mudede

 

Touching the Void dir. Kevin Macdonald

 

Opens Fri Jan 23.

 

 

Early in this drama-documentary, either Joe Simpson or his mountain-climbing countryman Simon Yates (I can't recall which) explains to the interviewer, director Kevin Macdonald, the reason why he enjoys placing his life in harm's way. He offers an explanation along the lines of: "Life in the modern world is so safe, so predictable, so controlled.... That is why I long for the mountains.... It is there, high on a cliff, that I get a sense of danger, a thrill from the awareness that at any moment I might fall and die."

 

As an African who comes from one of the poorest countries in the world, a place where a majority of the population lives perpetually in harm's way, you can easily imagine what went through my mind when I heard an evidently well-to-do Englishman say these words with that air of pomposity (if not boredom) that's always the mark of a public school education. But it would be too easy to criticize this film on such terms; it would place me on too high a moral ground. Being something of a gentleman, I would much prefer to take this drama-documentary to task on a more leveled plane, and confront it only as a work of cinema.

 

Touching the Void is made of three parts, the main of which being the story itself. Cutting between the talking heads of present-day Simpson and Yates and the dramatization of the events that took place in 1985, some of which was filmed on location in the wilds of Peru with two actors (Brendan Mackey, Nicholas Aaron), the documentary recounts their legendary climb of the Siula Grande, whose summit is 22,000 feet above the level of the sea. In their mid-20s at the time, the two fly to Peru to defeat the then-unconquered peak. After setting camp at the base of Siula Grande, they begin their climb and reach the summit in just two days. On the way down, however, they meet with an accident, which costs Simpson the use of his right leg. Disabled by incredible amounts of pain, Simpson's chances of survival are reduced to nearly nothing: The way down is treacherous; the nights are too cold; the wind chill is minus 80; supplies are low; and they have no radio contact with the civilized world. At this point, the rational thing for Yates to do is abandon Simpson, return to Great Britain, and organize a memorial service for his brave companion.

 

Instead, Yates does the irrational thing and tries to help his injured partner. With the use of a rope, they make their descent at a snail's pace. While lowering Simpson down a precipice, Yates loses communication with his dangling partner. The cold day ends, the freezing night arrives, and Simpson is still dangling. Yates can't raise Simpson; Simpson can't reach the bottom. Finally, Yates does the rational thing: He cuts the rope, and his friend falls into a fantastically deep crevice. Yates returns to the camp alone.

 

The rest of the movie focuses on Simpson's super-arduous crawl down the rocks and ice of the unforgiving mountain. During this ordeal, the impressive shots of the mountain range that dominated the first quarter of the film are replaced by close-ups showing Simpson (or the actor playing Simpson) and his worsening condition. The deterioration of his appearance is not only unpleasant to watch, but tedious; it goes on and on and on. And just when you think his mangled face is about to fall off his head and roll down the snow, somehow, someway, it manages to hold on and only look worse than it did before. This might explain why Tom Cruise, who apparently considered playing the part of Simpson, ultimately declined the project: For much of the film, the role would have covered his good looks with horrible sores and deep flesh cracks.

 

It is during Simpson's crawl that the film's second part is revealed: Simpson's existentialism. He is by birth Catholic, but very much doubts the existence of God or an afterlife. When death appears before him in the depths of the ice cave that is threatening to become his eternal tomb, he looks at it (death) and then looks inside of his soul, wondering if from it a warm impulse, a sudden sensation of hope, will awaken his faith in God. He feels nothing but the cold of the cave. Accepting the reality of this nothingness, above which all human life is suspended by a thin thread, he manages to crawl out of the cave and, inch by inch, make his way back to the life of the camp.

 

Finally, the third part of the film is about climbing itself--about the equipment, and the specialized language of climbing. Those who take this form of recreation seriously will most enjoy this part of the film, with its healthy chunks of climbing wisdom, its descriptions of the multiple dangers that challenge the mountaineer. We learn about the type of snow that covers Siula Grande, and what this type of snow means to Simpson and Yates. They can also read slight changes in the weather, and direct their upward progress accordingly. I'm not sure if Simpson and Yates are still active mountaineers, but it is clear that just speaking about their famous climb, detailing it in that near-formal language which distinguishes professional mountaineers from amateurs, gives them a pleasure that is satanic in its size and intensity.

 

This is the double thing that they live for: the actual climb and, be it in a pub, or over supper, or in front of a movie camera, recounting the experience of that climb. But if you are not interested in mountaineering and happen to be in this pub, or sitting at the supper table, or in the movie theater, listening to the story, you will be bored to death. Yes, the mountain is beautiful, and the perils that confront the climb are numerous. But this is still not enough to fully engage an art as big as cinema. Touching the Void should have existed for 30 minutes on the Discovery Channel, not 106 minutes at the theater.

 

 

charles@thestranger.com

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What the hell???

He starts off blowing sunshine up his ass about how he stands on higher moral ground

 

As an African who comes from one of the poorest countries in the world, a place where a majority of the population lives perpetually in harm's way, you can easily imagine what went through my mind when I heard an evidently well-to-do Englishman say these words with that air of pomposity (if not boredom) that's always the mark of a public school education. But it would be too easy to criticize this film on such terms; it would place me on too high a moral ground.

 

Now that he's established himself as being better than the rest of ourselves he goes on to say that Yates shoulda saved his own life and let simpson take the plunge on his own.

 

Instead, Yates does the irrational thing and tries to help his injured partner...

 

Finally, Yates does the rational thing: He cuts the rope, and his friend falls into a fantastically deep crevice. Yates returns to the camp alone.

 

I venture to guess that this asshole would do the rational thing and become a cannibal if he were to be left in hunger stricken Africa again. Of coarse cannibalism is the rational response as you are both saving yourself as well as reducing the overpopulation. In doing this, I'm sure that he'd have no problems proclaiming that he is of coarse on morally higher ground than those that are risking their own health trying to raise their children with sufficient food and water.

 

The rational thing would be to eat their children!!!! HCL.gif

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I did.

 

You miss the point: He is saying that he did not want to criticize the film based on socio economic, political, and moral grounds. e.g. if you are so bored and seek a life on the edge, why not try putting your talents towards delivering food to people in war torn Africa. Plenty of risk and adrenaline there!

 

He's just saying it was hard to identify and feel for the characters. Which is what most of us hear from our friends and family who don't understand our climbing. Our words of explanation don't ring true to them.

 

The review is a good insight for me as to how I am viewed by others.

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No... I think you're missing mine

 

You miss the point: He is saying that he did not want to criticize the film based on socio economic, political, and moral grounds. e.g. if you are so bored and seek a life on the edge, why not try putting your talents towards delivering food to people in war torn Africa. Plenty of risk and adrenaline there!

 

My point is that he criticizes us for climbing then turns around and criticizes Simon for not cutting the rope sooner as the "rational" thing to do???

 

How can he look down on us for climbing instead of helping others yet critisize Simon for helping Joe instead of climbing to safety?????

confused.gif

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Boys, boys, please be civil with Charles. Remember that you are ambassadors of the premier Pacific Northwest Climber's Resource. evils3d.gif

Edited by catbirdseat

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My point is that he criticizes us for climbing then turns around and criticizes Simon for not cutting the rope sooner as the "rational" thing to do???

 

How can he look down on us for climbing instead of helping others yet critisize Simon for helping Joe instead of climbing to safety?????

confused.gif

 

The review says "At this point, the rational thing for Yates to do is abandon Simpson... Instead, Yates does the irrational thing and tries to help his injured partner." The subsequent references to "rational" refer to that previous statement.

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Hey legs, my point about his point is "given the state of the world" why should he give a fuck about the situation they are in. It is hard for the non-climber to sypathize. They accepted the risk and exposed themselves because it made them feel "Alive". He's not looking down. He decided early on not to take the "higher moral ground" position. He merely does not get it and why should he.

 

Most (and I mean like the vast majority of humanity) people see climbing as an unnecessary exposure to risk in a world fraught with danger, unless you put it in a context they can relate to (heroic, romantic...) Mudede couldn't see past the utter senselessness of it given the lens he was viewing the film through. In that sense the Film fails.

 

But I loved it. So in that sense, the film succeeded.

 

bigdrink.gif

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"Mudede couldn't see past the utter senselessness of it given the lens he was viewing the film through."

 

Pardon my barging in, personally I was a bit put off by Mudede's review. I understand it (I think) and BG too. But it seems to me that when someone sees this film exclusively through the "lens" of politics or class to such an extent that they seem to completely miss the basic humanity of the situation (Simpsons suffering, fear, doubts etc,) well, frankly they scare me. Suffering is suffering, no matter the cause, in it's midst is not the time to question what got you there.

 

And another thing, we're all on a raft headed down stream for a big fall, all of us, wether in a poor African village or in Beverly Hills. We can try till the cows come home to be "fair", "rational", "even minded" and that is -in many ways- a good and noble thing. But in the end we still have a deep desire for the irrational, for risk, for pushing the limits, the realm of art and the heart.

 

I too used to think that people who "needlessly risked their lives" were idiots. Now I'm more inclined to believe that some people just seem to get it - that you don't live that long no matter how safe you try to make it.

 

There's a lot of ways to change the world, a lot of ways to inspire an appreciation for life. I think there is plenty of room left here in the raft for the likes of Simpson and Yates, and Mudede too.

 

This is a very good movie! Though (strictly speaking) not just a "climbing" film. The first half certainly, yes, but the second half speaks to something much deeper than "pick placements".

 

jmo - Doug cool.gif

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I think SL needs to slow down and read that review again. It's a pretty good one with some good points,for sure. Critics usually suck but it's a fairly thoughtful review.

 

I couldn't agree with the guy more that the movie seemed more like a TV docudrama than a feature film. The movie kicked butt but it ain't a perfect film, for sure.

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Amen Brother!!!

 

There's this mainstream film coming out called "Along Came Polly" with Ben Stiller. Ben is totally hung up over protecting himself from all harm. Far more than Mudede himself. He runs into this girl who starts to open him up. He starts to experience the world for what it really is. I mean he was spending his entire life trying to live long and in doing so, wasn't living at all!

 

Now Mudede isn't going to bring up politics, class or race in this review because he can relate to it. I mean he's probably living a pretty risky life compared to Ben in the beginning. I understand the reason for him not relating to climbing in the first place, but he could have simply stated this and then gone on to write an unbiased review.

 

I feel that dmju hit it on the nose when he said:

But it seems to me that when someone sees this film exclusively through the "lens" of politics or class to such an extent that they seem to completely miss the basic humanity of the situation (Simpsons suffering, fear, doubts etc,) well, frankly they scare me.

 

I guess thats what I was trying to say. He never let go of the issue. He never stepped off of that so called Higher Moral Ground. He should've related even more towards the film than someone not exposed to survival situations. He obviously feels that he has had a personal struggle with survival in a very real sense. How can he not start to feel a real urge to help Simpson though risking his own life. Isn't this exactly what he was relating to in his own experiences??? I'm scared of the MoFO too!!!

 

Would he have brought up the same points in reference to Shakleton's voyage? Basically the same scenario except in sailing rather than Climbing.

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One could use Charles Mudede's view to take the position that we shouldn't watch pro-sports because others are starving, and the time and money wasted on the athletes and games could be used to help the starving.

 

I think he is full of shit and though he says he isn't taking the moral high ground, he totally is trying to do just that.

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