Universal acclaim - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. 100
    The most harrowing movie about mountain climbing I have seen, or can imagine.
  2. 100
    For audiences, two things keep the tension from becoming too excruciating: the presence of the survivors in front of us and the knowledge that in the grip of Macdonald's humane, lucid filmmaking, we're in the best of hands.
  3. Warms the heart while chilling the bones.
  4. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    By the end of this white-knuckle movie, you stand in awe at the depth of man's will to survive. Touching the Void leaves you emotionally and physically spent, and grateful it was only a movie, not a mountain, you had to endure.
  5. An absolutely thrilling recreation, in documentary style, of a now-legendary story.
  6. Factoring in Mike Eley's breathtakingly vivid photography and a virtuoso sound mix that completely envelops the viewer, it's enough to make you never again want to poke your head into the freezer.
  7. As a piece of inspirationalism about human stamina, Touching the Void is peerless, but what it doesn't--perhaps can't--explain is why people place themselves in such peril.
  8. 90
    Breathtaking stuff that freezes the toes, harrows the soul and turns the viewer's seat into a foot-wide ledge over a yawning chasm.
  9. 90
    One of Void's great strengths is that it doesn't say much about "voids." It simply shows us, in incredibly vivid detail, heart-stopping danger and the raw will to survive.
  10. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Uses first-person on-camera accounts of the adventure by Simpson and fellow climber Simon Yates to backdrop newly shot you-are-there footage that brings home the awesome and harrowing aspects of their feat.
  11. Tells a tale of fortitude that comes not from muscle but from the ineffable, bungee-like sinew that is the human spirit.
  12. 90
    Kevin Macdonald has a terrific tale on his hands, and his telling of it, very British in its matter-of-factness, can barely be faulted; yet the facts drop away, and it becomes impossible not to read the movie symbolically--as a journey to the center of the earth, or farther still.
  13. Something of a tour de force, this adaptation of Joe Simpson's nonfiction book about his climbing the 21,000-foot Siula Grande mountain in Peru, breaking a leg, and eventually making it back alive is remarkable simply because the story seems unfilmable.
  14. So well cast and well captured is Touching the Void that it suspends disbelief, making us feel as if we're actually watching Simpson's own icy version of Dante's "Inferno."
  15. A stunning achievement, every bit the equal of the classic moun taineering book which inspired it.
  16. Reviewed by: Don Sapatkin
    Touching the Void is, indeed, about living, but not the exhilarating kind. It's about survival -- raw, real, by force of will.
  17. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    As sagas of endurance in the face of ridiculous odds go, this story is up there with Shackleton and ''Into Thin Air.''
  18. 88
    Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction… and also potentially more nail-biting and harder to believe. Touching the Void is an extreme example of this.
  19. The story itself is so powerful and troubling, the moral geometry so vertiginous, and the photography so big that anything other than the natural sounds of snowfall and footfall is a Flat Earth Society intrusion.
  20. It's a gripping outdoor adventure and the movies' most inspiring epic survival story in years.
  21. 80
    Suffice it to say that MacDonald has made the finest mountain climbing movie you are likely ever to come across. The cinematography is awesome, the score by Alex Heffes terrific, the reenactments remarkably credible.
  22. 80
    Unexpectedly bridges genres -- it's a buddy movie, a horror story, a boy's-own adventure, and a near metaphysical meditation on the limits of human endurance.
  23. The film, directed almost with fierceness by Kevin Macdonald, is a wondrous recreation of that physical adventure. The most profound element, the moral crux, is skimped, but I kept wondering, not so much about the actors who were playing Simpson and Yates, as about the cameramen who were photographing them on that icy face, possibly suspended while they were doing it.
  24. Don't miss this harrowing movie if you're in the mood for adventure more thrilling than anything Hollywood has to offer these days.
  25. 75
    Even for a sport already filled with horrific accidents and tales of unlikely survival, the mountain-climbing nightmare told in Touching the Void is astonishing.
  26. Real acting replaces re-enacting, and amazing cinematography pits the limits of human will against the unruliness of nature.
  27. It's also mysterious in fresh ways. Like Hillary, Yates and Simpson climbed the mountain because it was there -- but what strange deity sent down a Boney M song to help Joe Simpson get home?
  28. 70
    At its heart, Touching The Void contends with the physical and spiritual dilemma of facing the unknown and overcoming paralyzing fear in order to emerge reborn on the other side. But the film's appeal is even more fundamental than that: It's just one of those stories that catches the breath, no matter how often it's told.
  29. Without really understanding what drove these two men to attempt the risky climb in the first place, it’s hard to extend the requisite sympathy for their plight. A void was definitely touched in this movie, and it was inside me.
  30. Simpson and Yates give a good idea why individuals are drawn to extreme sports.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 34 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 21
  2. Negative: 1 out of 21
  1. May 21, 2013
    This highly-praised documentary from Scottish director Kevin Macdonald (THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND 2006, 8/10, STATE OF PLAY 2009, 6/10),This highly-praised documentary from Scottish director Kevin Macdonald (THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND 2006, 8/10, STATE OF PLAY 2009, 6/10), spunkily tackles the most inconceivable survival story in the mountaineering history, narrated by Joe Simpson and Simon Yates in propria persona of their perilous conquest to the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985, while faithfully re-enacts what had happened during the lengthy 168 hours.

    It is such an incredible and telling story which could eclipses Danny Boyle’s 127 HOURS (2010, 8/10), Joe’s destiny is as much indebted to his heaven-sent luck as his professional surviving skills and the tenacious willpower of staying alive. The talking-ahead forthrightness from Joe and Simon delineates their adventure in detailed nuance, carefully selected words without any bells and whistles, instantly brings audiences to the locale, we are fairly certain it is a mission impossible to do the copy-cat climbing and abseiling since it is unimaginable to transport a team of crew to accomplish such a chimera, still team Macdonald exerts formidable effort to show us what kind of beast Siula Grande is, a reverential task has been adroitly done and salute to the cameramen, two actors (Mackey and Aaron) and stunts.

    The natural immenseness, the icy whiteness and the fearsome precipices are soul-engulfing, and the forlornness is overpowering even we all know they all outlive the unthinkable misadventure (I keep imagining in the end of the film, Macdonald would show us a frontal shot of Joe with one leg only or a prosthetic leg). Myself is never an extreme-sports advocate, putting one’s own life in jeopardy to pursue some kind of spiritual catharsis or mental orgasm (maybe physically as well) has never been on my agenda, notwithstanding which, the film fortuitously excels its reassuring ode of human strength and reaches a soul-searching incisiveness for every viewer to reflect on our regards of nature and life. When curiosity being satisfied, the film still imprints its indelible mark on the ectoplasm level, great work indeed!

    The film’s 106 minutes running time seems rather short to me, when Joe finally reunites with Simon, the film also soon ends with succinct captions indicating their later life, which inevitably makes me wonder what is their rumination of that accident after the heaven-or-hell experience, I wish the film would be a bit longer to tap into that aspect, it would render us some revelation on a more humanized surface, then it would be an impeccable documentary feature for me. But anyway the film is the new entry of my top 10 BEST PICTURE in 2003, bravo!
    Full Review »
  2. AliC
    Dec 7, 2005
    Touching the Void was very nearly a Sally Field-sponsored, Tom Cruise-starring Hollywood blockbuster (Tom wanted the part of Joe). Thank the Touching the Void was very nearly a Sally Field-sponsored, Tom Cruise-starring Hollywood blockbuster (Tom wanted the part of Joe). Thank the lord it wasn't. One of the great cinematic experiences, and the best climbing film ever, this is also a powerful exploration of humanity, that cannot fail to move anyone who watches it. Joe Simpson is a deeply erudite and thoughtful person, and I guess we are all perversely fortunate that such a ghastly experience should happen to someone with his capacity for reflection and emotional expression. Life changing, shocking and profoundly moving. Full Review »
  3. RoryM.
    Oct 26, 2005
    Before watching the film I was put off by the fact that it was going to be a documentary. This, I thought, is going to be really boring. Hell Before watching the film I was put off by the fact that it was going to be a documentary. This, I thought, is going to be really boring. Hell was I wrong; the Full Review »