Film In the opening moments of Touching The Void there was a titter from the audience. The two climbers Joe Simpson and Simon Yates describe the adventure they were embarking on and we see a shot of Siula Grande, the 21,000ft mountain they're about to climb. They're laying on thick how difficult it would all be, how no one else has attempted it and how one little mistake could mean that they wouldn't get out alive. At this crucial moment of awe we're actually thinking - "How could you be so stupid? I'm with Richard Hawking (the crucial third man in base camp), climbing is stupid. I'd rather be reading that book of his and cooking sausages for three days," and we laugh. Even though I know the story from the many article which preceded the release of the film, I'm thinking it's their own fault.

Indeed the first half hour of the film, which recounts the accent to the summit of the mountain feels like one of those mountaineering videos you see on sale in Millets, but on a much larger budget. The viewer is just about carried through by the majesty of the scenery and the breathtaking camera work of the reconstruction. The feeling is that in order to recreate the scenes, the production crew effectively had to recreate the feat themselves. On reflection it's a very clever way of setting up Joe and Simon and their relationship to one another and why they're their. It literally is what they do - it's what defines them as people. There are easier pursuits, but to a certain extent their dreaming of conquering peaks in Peru so you don't have to. Before you know you're hanging on their every word.

So that when the accident occurs you're primed and ready for the shock, heart stopping, pulse racing. Contemporary Joe, describes for example how he broke his leg. Then he shows us using his arms as a model. Not one person in the audience didn't squirm. Some have had broken legs, but suddenly we could see it. The narrative continues through the decision at the centre of the film, to cut or not to cut, and on into the climber's separation and subsequent battles through to base camp. Director Kevin Macdonald experiments with what can be done within the drama documentary format using camera and sound tricks to place the audience at the centre of the action described throughout by the climbers themselves in interview. In all moments it's gut wrenching (in fact one audience member at my screening had a coughing fit which wouldn't go away), how the degradation of the human spirit can somehow become a strength. And somehow, even though we know Joe gets out alive (he's narrating the story after all) we're on the edge of our seat wondering if he does make it. Now that's film making.

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