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“Touching the Void” by Kevin Macdonald Essay

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Updated: Dec 2nd, 2021

The movie “Touching the Void” was released in 2003 and is a documentary movie based on the book by “Joe Simpson” by the same name. It is a riveting tale of two young and ambitious climbers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, who chose to climb the 6,344-meter Siula Grande located in the Peruvian Andes in the year 1985 (Mackey, Aaron, and Simpson). The climb was a success, but the descent was not as lucky for the two men when Simpson fell and injured himself, and the series of events that followed became part of a mountaineering legend.

However, if it is the suspense that is desired from the movie, then there is nothing but disappointment for the viewer since the movie lacked the element of suspense from the very beginning; it is clear that both the mountaineers will survive the treacherous descent. The actual mountaineers are played by actors Brendan Mackey and Nicholas Aaron as Simpson and Yates, respectively. The actors recreate the series of events for the audience as the off-screen narration is provided by the actual mountaineers. A brief insight into the filming of the movie revealed that the mountain used to make the film was not only the actual Siula Grande of the Peruvian Andes but also Mount Blanc in the Alps. This also led to a marked decrease in the originality of the movie.

Even though Simon was subjected to quite a bit of criticism by the mountaineering community, I do not think it was completely justified in the sense that when Simpson did not see any reason to accuse Yates of his actions, then the mountaineering community had no right to criticize Yates for cutting the rope. In hard times such as these, it is necessary that difficult decisions are made for the better good. After all, in the end, Yates’ decision did allow Simpson to survive. Also, the decision made by Yates was based on the evidence he had at hand. Yates was guided by the sense of rationality and made a choice that was harsh and cold but a necessary one if he had to save one of the two lives involved. After all, Yates was also willing to lower Simpson down the full way after Simpson had gotten injured, and perhaps had Yates known that Simpson was alive, he might have thought out an alternate solution.

The tale is similar to that presented by Jon Krakauer in “Into the Wild” in the desolation and the abandonment that we find the lead character suffering through, although it differs greatly in the conclusion that both stories meet. Also, in “Into the Wild,” the lead character is free to make his decisions and abandons all that is close to him in the very beginning, whereas in “Touching the void,” the element of sacrifice does not enter until later in the series of events.

As one sees the events recreated and unfold, one cannot help but watch in awe at the mountains and realize how man has constantly been drawn to them and how these ruthless mountains have taken man after brave men to their ends. It is amazing how the man keeps heeding the invitation of the mountains and keeps accepting the challenge of climbing them at the cost of putting his very life on the line. The mountain conditions remind the viewer how the mountains have been putting men in situations where man has been revealed in his true colors for the strength of character he possesses.

Works Cited

Touching the Void. Dir. K. Macdonald. Perf. B. Mackey, et al. 2003.

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IvyPanda. (2021, December 2). "Touching the Void" by Kevin Macdonald. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/touching-the-void-by-kevin-macdonald/

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""Touching the Void" by Kevin Macdonald." IvyPanda, 2 Dec. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/touching-the-void-by-kevin-macdonald/.

1. IvyPanda. ""Touching the Void" by Kevin Macdonald." December 2, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/touching-the-void-by-kevin-macdonald/.


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IvyPanda. ""Touching the Void" by Kevin Macdonald." December 2, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/touching-the-void-by-kevin-macdonald/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. ""Touching the Void" by Kevin Macdonald." December 2, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/touching-the-void-by-kevin-macdonald/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) '"Touching the Void" by Kevin Macdonald'. 2 December.

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