Year: 2003
USA: IFC Films
UK: Pathe Distribution
Cast: Joe Simpson, Simon Yates, Nicholas Aaron, Brendan Mackey
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Country: UK
USA & UK: 106 mins
UK Certificate: 15 contains very strong language
USA Release Date: 23 January 2003 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 12 December 2003


Kevin Macdonald, the Academy Award winning director of ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER, has created a staggering film with TOUCHING THE VOID. Based on Joe Simpson's international bestseller of the same name, TOUCHING THE VOID documents one of the most extraordinary true stories of adventure and survival of recent times. The film recounts the story of the fateful climb Joe Simpson and his mountaineering partner Simon Yates undertook in Peru in 1985.

The two ambitious young mountaineers set off to scale the hitherto unclimbed West Face of Siula Grande, a remote and perilous peak in the Andes. They reach the summit but shortly afterwards, Joe Simpson (played by Brendan Mackey) falls, shattering his leg. With no hope of rescue and in atrocious weather conditions, Simon Yates (played by Nicholas Aaron) attempts to lower his partner down the mountain to safety. Hours later he accidentally lowers Simpson over an ice cliff, where he hangs helplessly. When Yates can hang on no longer, he is faced with a hellish decision: to allow himself to be pulled off the mountain to his own death; or to cut the rope and send his partner plummeting into the void below.

Yates cuts the rope, and devastated, returns to base camp. Yet miraculously Simpson has survived the fall into a vast crevasse. Joe Simpson's singular determination to defy the overwhelming odds against him and inch his way back down the mountain is relayed in the most agonizing and heartbreaking detail.

Shot entirely on location in the Andes and the Alps, the film combines dramatic reconstructions and frank interviews with the two climbers whose lives the mountains so nearly claimed. Kevin Macdonald and his subjects, Simpson and Yates, prove an exceptionally engaging team of storytellers; and the tale they unravel presents a breathtaking, nail-biting, and utterly inspirational rollercoaster ride.

The DVD includes the trailer; 'What Happened Next' and 'Return To Siula Grande', a 30 minute (tbc) making-of documentary, revealing Joe and Simon's reactions to revisiting the site of their ordeal.