Alex Honnold is a professional rock climber whose audacious free solo ascents of America’s biggest cliffs have made him one of the world’s most famous climbers. When you think of someone climbing up a 3,200 foot cliff with no rope, you immediately imagine a crazy adrenaline-junky with a death-wish, however Alex is much the opposite. A humble and gentle guy that simply gets deep-satisfaction in the thrill-seeking yet pure nature of free-soloing.
The documentary follows Alex over a year or so as he trains his body and mind to overcome arguably the most revered achievement in the world of climbing. His efforts are summed up perfectly at one point in the film where the challenge ahead of him is compared to attempting to win a gold medal at the Olympics, with the added pressure of dying if you fail.
You have probably guessed by the fact that this film has been released that Alex does not die, however this doesn’t mean you won’t be on the edge of your seat with sweaty palms as he ascends the largest granite face in Yosemite National Park.
In Free Solo, you see Alex on the rock face but also on the ground with his teammates, friends and girlfriend, whilst also at times being alone, contemplating what’s ahead of him. The film really completes a full picture of what is required to achieve such excellence. Alex is truly one of a kind, with a very relaxed and easy going nature on the outside, but a very calculated and assured coolness on the inside. He inspires a lifestyle of freedom, honesty and ambition, and succeeding in this challenge places his story in the annals of human achievement.
Free Solo is produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and long-time friend of Alex, professional climber and cinematographer, Jimmy Chin. Alongside other team members, Chin and Vasarhelyi have put together an outstanding piece of work, in-spite of the many challenges that came with making this feature film. It is one thing hanging off the sides of cliff-faces operating camera equipment, however it is even more difficult doing it with a constant fear that you will see your close friend fall out of the frame and to his death.
The film has received numerous accolades, including winning Best Documentary at the 91st Academy Awards. A must watch that perfectly displays the ultimate capabilities of human kind and nature alike.
‘You face your fear because your goal demands it.’ – Alex Honnold