Joe Simpson interview: 'I'm not an easy person to be with' - Telegraph
Life & relationships · Health & wellness · Fashion · Beauty · Horoscopes Yes, admits Simon Yates, one of the world's most famous - or to the documentary based on a book by Joe Simpson, his former climbing partner. "I did have some problems," he says, blaming reports in the British tabloids. and how relations with the climbers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, unravelled . year-old Simpson and his climbing partner Simon Yates, then 21, . of the problems, as my relationship with Simpson and Yates began. When Joe Simpson and Simon Yates set out in June to scale. Siula Grande , a 20,foot mountain in the Peruvian Andes, they.
It also confronts you with a number of moral conundrums and comparisons. Was Yates right to cut the rope?
'Touching the Void' climber says director burned him with one-sided story
Why didn't he check to see if Simpson was dead? Would I have survived if I had been in the same situation as Simpson? Or would I have just curled up and died? But it also presents us with some big themes: Ultimately it is - to use that trite but accurate Hollywood phrase - a story about "the triumph of the human spirit".
Since it was published in two years after the events actually happenedthe film rights for Touching the Void had been owned or sought by myriad film producers.
Return to Siula Grande
Werner Herzog tried to get it, Frank Marshall, the director of Alive and producer of numerous Steven Spielberg films, wanted it The reason seemed obvious.
The book consists almost entirely of internal monologue - the two climbers barely speak throughout their ordeal, and during the crucial stages are in fact separate. How do you make an accessible film out of that?
My solution, of course, was to make it as a documentary - to throw out the book itself and go back to Simpson and Yates and the third incidental character, Hawking and get them to tell the story afresh. I was worried that so long after the event - and having talked about them so often - they would tell the story in a dry, unspontaneous way.
Only if the interviews work, would it be worth continuing with the film. These concerns turned out to be unfounded. The story was still very much a live issue for all three characters. In some odd way they were all still in thrall to what had happened over a few days so long before.
Whether they admitted it or not - and two of them didn't - in my opinion the events on Siula Grande continued to shape their lives.
Joe Simpson interview: 'I'm not an easy person to be with'
So the heart and skeleton of the film was already there. But what about the flesh? The only option was a technique that sent shivers down my spine: In film, I believe things should either be documentary or drama. If there is a tendency in modern television I hate, it is the unstoppable march of the dramatic reconstruction to tell the stories of anything from an ancient Egyptian battle to the early life of Paul Gascoigne.
That was my biggest fear: The answer we came up with was simple: Keep the documentary element the interviews straightforward and make the dramatic elements feel as real as possible, filming in a naturalistic style with good actors and no apologies.
Would audiences buy an actor playing Simpson if they had just seen the real person? Who would they empathise with? I really had no idea. The plan was to do all the wide shots in Peru, on the real location, and then return to the Alps to do the stunts and close up work with the actors.
Simpson and Yates were persuaded to accompany us partly so that they could show us where and how things had happened, and partly because, since we hadn't yet cast our actors, they seemed to be the best people to double for themselves.
We were also interested to capture how they would react to returning to Siula Grande, given the associations it had for them. Yates was absolutely level-headed about it. He had already been back to the area a few years previously, and insisted that this trip meant little or nothing to him psychologically. Having seen how he reacted to the story in interview, however, I wasn't sure I believed him.
Superficially, Simpson was much less confident about returning. It was obvious from the moment we met him at the airport for the flight to Lima that he was genuinely nervous. He was wearing a T-shirt which read "The last one dead's a cissy", and swallowing beer after beer. As our plane approached Lima, an extraordinary thing happened: The sight filled us all with awe - all except Simpson, who merely said: I had sometimes wondered if Simpson had exaggerated his ordeal. He took a very pragmatic decision.
Then, not having died, initially he beat himself up about it. He has a favourite Tibetan saying, ge garne. You just get on. Yates slightly less so.
They both went on many more climbs together but Yates, married with two children, now lives in the Lake District, with his own guiding and trekking business. Simpson has retired from climbing. They are no longer in touch.
Kevin Macdonald on filming Touching the Void | Film | The Guardian
When they collaborated on the film of Touching the Void inthey had not seen one another for 10 years. She slips from his grasp and falls to her death in a crevasse. He almost perishes in the search for her Simpson at his poetic best describing the limits of human endurance in a white hell and, consumed by guilt, keeps a vigil on the mountain for 25 years. I wanted to shake him.
Only when he felt a tug on the rope did Yates know his crippled companion was safe. Then Yates would gingerly make his way down through the freezing cold to join Simpson so he could begin the exhausting procedure again.
The plan was working until Yates unknowingly lowered Simpson over an overhang, leaving him suspended in mid-air with no way of communicating his predicament. For almost an hour, in the bitter cold, Yates took the full weight of Simpson on the rope, not knowing whether the other man was dead or alive. All the time, Yates felt himself being dragged ever closer to the void. Eventually, he faced his dilemma. To live, he must cut the rope. As we know, Simpson miraculously survived the fall, crashed through a glacier and then, in an extraordinary feat of mental determination and physical endurance, crawled back to their camp and the grieving figure of Yates.
News of what had happened to Simpson and Yates flashed around the world. Here was a modern morality tale with an obvious hero - Simpson - and, to some who knew nothing about mountaineering's code, an obvious "villain". The two climbers no longer keep in touch, Yates says, as he arrives in Sydney for an Australian lecture tour. But then he has long maintained that his life should not be seen through the prism of what he calls "the Void thing".
After the pair returned to Britain inYates found himself vilified by some climbers, though he dismisses reports he was physically assaulted. It had to be, of course. He had just tried and sentenced his best friend to death. Then, with one swift cut of his knife, he carried out the execution. Those who criticised him were mainly "the grumpy old men" of the Mount Everest Foundation who considered recommending that he never again get a grant to pioneer mountain routes.
When they'd gone climbing they did it with platoons. Now it's often just two people. If anything goes wrong you can't rely on an army of others. He dedicated his book and the documentary to Yates, saying his climbing partner saved his life by staying with him on the mountain for so long.
Simpson said he, too, would have cut the rope if their positions had been reversed.Avoiding the Touch - Return to Siula Grande
Nevertheless, Simpson and Yates never climbed together again. I saw Joe fairly regularly when we both lived in Sheffield.