Mountain climbing may be one of the few modern dramatic subjects that contain the key elements of Greek tragedy: terror and folly, hubris and courage. You get a staggering sense of all four in Touching the Void, Kevin Macdonald’s film of Joe Simpson’s book.

Simpson and his friend Simon Yates were the first to climb Siula Grande, a 21,000-foot peak in the Peruvian Andes, and it’s a miracle that either of them got out alive. They designed their feat as a “pure climb,” eschewing the idea of setting up camps along the route, though they did leave Richard Hawking, a companion they’d made in their trek through Peru, at a base camp at the bottom of the mountain.


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