Director: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
Release Date: September 28th 2018
I assume more than 80 percent of the population hasn’t heard of Alex Honnold. That isn’t the case when about other all-time great athletes like from Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Charles Barkley. Even non-fans have heard of Tom Brady or Emmitt Smith. The same can’t be said about rock-climbing, let alone free-solo rock climbing. Insert Alex Honnold, free-solo rock climber. Free-solo rock climbing is exactly what it sounds like: climbing with nothing — not a rope, not a harness, nothing that would help the climber.
Free Solo is a National Geographic original film that follows the life and training of Honnold as he prepares to climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. El Capitan stands about 3,000 feet from its base to the top and has never been conquered by a free solo climber. Honnold lives in a converted van with the bed in the back and a oven and stove in the back seat. We don’t know why Honnold lives in the van, but when someone climbs mountains for fun it doesn’t seem too far off. Most of the time we are following the battle Alex is facing with being great. Honnold’s ambition to be great taints his relationship with his girlfriend Sanni. Though Sanni accepts the risks of dating a solo rock climber, we can still see that she isn’t totally comfortable with what Alex does.
Free Solo is more or less a character study. Honnold, a California native, has been rock climbing since he was a boy. He didn’t tell anyone when he began soloing. To be a free-solo climber Hollond believes that the less expectations the better. During Free Solo we see Alex bail on a few attempts, mainly because he is being recording. It’s clear that soloing is something that needs to be done alone, in your own headspace and in your own way. The slightest mistake will send you thousands of feet to your death. So it’s hard to fault Alex for bailing the first time the camera was on him.
Free Solo has been nominated for Best Documentary Feature Film, along with Hale County This Morning, This Evening, Minding the Gap, Of Fathers and Sons and RBG. While my heart stuck more with Hulu’s Minding The Gap, Free Solo is still something that worth checking out.
Free Solo isn’t playing in many theaters because of its September release date.