Koch on Film
Touching the Void (+)
This film is a magnificent reenactment of a true climbing incident that occurred in the Peruvian Andes.
Two Brits in their 20s, Joe Simpson (Brendan Mackey) and Simon Yates (Nicholas Aaron), set out to climb the difficult mountain, Siula Grande. Along the way, they meet another man who joins them and watches their base camp while they make the climb. Joe and Simon safely reach the top of the mountain, but on the way down, Joe breaks his leg causing one bone to slide past the other, a truly painful fracture.
Tied together, Simon lowers Joe 300 feet at a time. When Joe tugs the rope, Simon knows that Joe is safe and Simon climbs down to Joes location. On one occasion, blinded by a snow storm, Simon lowers Joe but receives no tug on the rope. After an hour, he realizes that Joe is suspended in midair. When Simon begins to loose his footing and slide, he has no choice but to cut the rope binding them together and let Joe fall.
Joe falls into the crevice, and from that point on the film centers on his painful effort to climb out of it and return to base camp. His incredible and enormously painful efforts are realistically depicted in the reenactment. The closing crawl on the screen includes a statement that the climbing community has not forgiven Simon for cutting the rope. My question is, what were his options? There were none.
I chose this movie, because there has been a dearth of good films released during the last five weeks. I thought I was choosing the best of a bad lot. Boy, was I wrong. This film is superb and well worth seeing. The fact that the parts of the two climbers are played by actors does not adversely affect the audience. They are brilliant.
Trilogy 1: On the Run (+)
This is the first chapter of a triptych film.
Bruno le Roux (Lucas Belvaux), leader of a revolutionary group, escapes from prison and is bent on killing a drug lord. At one point in the film, he makes a stirring speech on redressing the problems of the masses who are being crushed.
Bruno seeks the assistance of an old friend, Jeanne (Catherine Frot), who has given up her revolutionary involvement for a middle-class existence with her husband. Wanting primarily to protect her son, she initially refuses to help other than to take him over the border. But Brunos appeal ultimately affects her sense of duty to him and the revolution, and she agrees to help in the violence he plans. There are lots of shootouts and a final effort to cross the French-Italian Alp frontier.
The film (in French with English subtitles) is not always comprehensible, but it is always enjoyable. It is not, however, a superb movie as characterized by the BBC. I will probably see parts two and three unless Hollywood starts releasing really good films. Regrettably, for about the last five weeks, the available films have been mediocre.
- Ed Koch