So I think FREE SOLO is most extraordinary film I’ve ever seen.
This is a complete portrait of somebody who has a burning desire to achieve, enhanced by the way the film gives you just the right amount of context, sprinkled like seasoning within the narrative, to show you why Alex Honnold does what he does and is who he is.
El Capitan is approx 3000ft of sheer granite, towering towards the heavens within Yosemite National Park; for decades a climbing mecca. Then when you realise the documentary’s title describes the climbing pursuit of scaling heights with no ropes, no support… by definition no second chances, then we have a truly ‘omg’ subject. If Tom Cruise lived in a van and dedicated his life to one thing, he still wouldn’t hold a candle to our Alex.
But this movie endures in the mind for many more reasons than what is arguably a monumental climbing feat. It resonates because he’s closed off emotionally to his immensely likeable girlfriend, Sanni, and that’s heart-wrenching to watch and imagine. Alex also genuinely doesn’t seem to seek the fame his career has brought him, and in our world of shouty social media this is so refreshing and makes you warm to the task in hand.
My regret is that I didn’t see this in IMAX, because that scale of presentation would have made the later parts of film addictively immersive, in a truly scary way. The cinematography is beautiful, it places you right there on the ledges with Alex, and the team behind the cameras are all part of the story, as they comprise climbers and long-time friends of whom he trusts to record almost 4 hrs his slip-and-you-die assent.
This is more than a movie, in my mind it’s an historical document. Man against nature, because he wants it that way. An adrenalin rush of the purest kind for all who view it...