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The Longest Now

Touching the Void
Monday November 22nd 2004, 3:08 pm
Filed under: %a la mod

I just saw Touching the Void (imdb)again last night.  There are only six people in the film; Joe Simpson, Simon Yates, Richard Hawking, and their early-life doppelgangers. 

It was every bit as riveting the second time through; and I appreciated the direct commentary from the climbers (now middle-aged and still climbing) a good deal more.  There is something about people robustly expressing their real thoughts and dreams – the thousand half-formed emotions that pass across their faces before they pick one idea to express and speak it aloud – which is more nuanced than the greatest matchup of director and actor.

Every time I turn around to check up on some part of Simpson’s life story, I find another one of his co-authors or fellow climbers being referred to as “late”; something like the world of private piloting, everyone who climbs professionally has a handful of friends who have died in the act.  Jono may have given up flying as a result, as Simpson finally has climbing (mainly due to the disintegration of the ankle on his good leg), but as Joe says early on, “if death weren’t involved, we wouldn’t be doing it.”

On the most devastating part of dying alone, aside from an eternity of Boney M‘s “brown girl in the ring”:  

Once right at the end I made a critical mistake, I believed they might still be there. When I called out and they weren’t, it was a devastating moment because I allowed myself a little bit of hope.

Still hungry for more?  Here’s a quick post-film interview with Joe Simpson. 

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