Movie Dictator Club: Touching The Void (2003)


My entry in the Movie Dictator Club for the month of February, 2009!

Written By: N/A
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald

Let’s get one thing out of the way, I don’t care for documentaries at all. So those of you who will be puzzled by my dislike of this film, keep that in mind. I wouldn’t even take the time to watch a documentary like Touching The Void, but being a member of Filmspotting I participate in the Movie Dictator Club and this month we covered the topic of documentaries. A good guy Smirnoff, the name already speaks for itself, I can’t come up with any funny nickname to make Smirnoff any better or quirkier, assigned me Touching The Void. Long story short, I was taken by certain aspects of this film, but on the whole I was left disappointed and without satisfaction.

For the first thirty or so minutes of Touching The Void I was very interested, the visuals were impressive, the talking heads were interesting and I had yet to be pulled from the reality of the film. Unfortunately that interest waned as the movie droned on, the visuals were still impressive but they were more of the same again and again, the talking heads remained interesting, and the docudrama film making completely killed my ability to care about what was happening. But, for those first thirty or so minutes I enjoyed what I was seeing and I was into the story.

The docudrama style has never done it for me, because the only pull documentaries ever had on me was bringing me into a realistic situation, but the docudrama style removes the reality. Instead of watching them climb the mountain I am aware of the fact that actors are climbing a mountain and a camera is filming them. In short, the actual climb the film is discussing isn’t actually happening. In fictional films I can be transported to a place and even though I know it is being filmed the cameras don’t register with me, but in the docudrama style they do and every docudrama scene took me further and further away from the picture. The other problem for me was the nature of the storytelling. I honestly believe Touching The Void would have been much better as a motion picture as opposed to a documentary, because then it would have been incredibly interesting. In the documentary format the story loses steam fast and Touching The Void becomes a boring, almost lifeless film, I know these men are going to survive, I have been taken out of the film by the docudrama style and this has created one boring middle and end to what started out as a promising movie.

Well Smirnoff, I tried, but this documentary just wasn’t for me. I recognize the craft that was on display in creating the visuals and reenacting the climb. But, there needs to be substance to go with that craft, and in that department Touching The Void is sorely lacking. All the film needed to do was make me care, but it couldn’t. So, with this foray into the world of documentaries over with I don’t see myself revisiting said world any time soon.




2 responses to “Movie Dictator Club: Touching The Void (2003)

  1. The docudrama story telling technique ruined Man On Wire for me (among other things), a film that looks to earn an easy victory in tommorrow’s Filmspots’ documentary category. I haven’t seen Touching the Void, but I may give it a try if only for the subject matter.

  2. I did not like Man on Wire. Such an amazing story that was ruined by inept filmmaking.

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