Free Solo

For obvious reasons, like fear of heights and fear of dying, I would never attempt to do solo-climbing. But watching a movie about the first man to free solo climb the El Capitan wall is gripping. No ropes, no safety gear, and putting his hands through rock cracks-all qualities that make the climb life-risking. In fact, climbers have either succeeded or died in their adventures. The real thing I’m not sure of is: how exactly do they get down. Either by helicopter or climbing back down.

The documentary, “Free Solo,” shows us Alex Honnold before and after the famous El Capitan climb; and viewing his dreams and stunts reminds me of how Philippe Petit walked a tightrope across the Twin Towers.

We meet some characters in the movie, including Alex’s girlfriend Sanni McCandless, who supports him every step of the way, but worries about whether he’ll survive or not. What loved one wouldn’t.

And also the filmmakers, including director Jimmy Chin, grab footage of his training, until Alex decides it’s too much pressure for him. They film him out of sight, although we do see Alex smiling at the camera at times.

Even if we know he’ll make it to the top, we’re still scared for him. What if he falls? After all some have fallen to their deaths. The way Alex does it is with timing, patience, skills, and exercise. He’s on brave guy for taking on a challenge like this, and we applaud for him.

The movie is so beautifully photographed. The mountains, the rivers, the trees, the rocks, the air, and the waterfalls all match the tone and complexity of the movie. I enjoy looking at these clean features, even if I am trapped in a threatened world, and the way the movie presents them is just lovely.

One element I wish we could have learn more about is his late father, who has Aspergers. Apparently, he must have inherit his talents from him or maybe it’s something else, I don’t know.

I didn’t understand everything about Alex’s life, but I have picked up enough details to jot down in my notebook. But more importantly, the risks are riveting, the climb is thrilling, and the movie is entertaining.

Again, I would never climb a mountain without any safety gear or rope, but I would endorse this documentary for introducing me to a person who would and did.


Categories: Adventure, Documentary

2 replies

  1. I have watched climbers on El Capitan with binoculars on my trips to Yosemite. Even at night you could see their headlamps. Looking forward to seeing this movie!

  2. Sounds like a great movie, thanks for a great review! May have to wait and see this on the small screen though, scary!

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