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Documentary Corner: Free Solo (2018)

Written by Film

In Free Solo, audiences are witness to one of the finest human achievements ever, as a professional climber, Alex Honnold, becomes the first person in history to scale Yosemite’s 3,000 feet high wall – El Capitan…without ropes. Indeed, the act of ‘free soloing’ is just as it is portrayed in the film; a climber performs alone without the aid of any safety gear. Take this courageous, arguably crazy, act and amplify it to 1000 and you’re some way to imagining the scale of Honnold’s task.

Honnold’s story is told through the eyes of his friends and film crew, who pay witness to his determined mindset. Sanni McCandless, Alex’s girlfriend, is the emotional rock to the climber’s other rocky engagement; the granite of the wall itself. Though we are aligned with Alex’s commitment to his goal, the study of his romantic relationship is often difficult and puts our sympathies with Sanni herself. Met with the possibility that her partner could meet the same fate as many other climbers and perish in his attempt to succeed, Sanni’s anxieties are more than understandable.

What makes these events so tasteful is the painstaking efforts of the crew to film Honnold in his natural space.

As such, while the film attempts to show why someone would want to complete such a feat, there is an underlining sense of both bewilderment as we come to realise that Honnold is actually going to fulfil his mission. As the climber reaches his psychological peak, the mountain looms ever-closer to our expectations. Buckle yourselves up for the last twenty minutes, as you’re in for an authentic thrill ride. What makes these events so tasteful is the painstaking efforts of the crew to film Honnold in his natural space, undisturbed by bulky cameras.

Upon its release in December last year, the documentary was met with widespread acclaim, as critics celebrated the project’s stunning cinematography and honest storytelling. Stood on a rockface alongside commendable competitors during this year’s awards ceremonies, Free Solo strived to new heights to take home a BAFTA and Oscar award for the best documentary feature

Last modified: 23rd October 2019

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