Free Solo is a documentary that follows professional rock climber Alex Honnold. For the last few years, he has done what many climbers call “free soloing”: the art of rock climbing without the safety of a rope.
Obviously, this is a dangerous venture, even for the most experienced pursuers. But during the duration of National Geographic’s documentary, the viewer sits upon the edge of his seat with chewed nails and an uneasy mind as Honnold attempts to climb El Capitan’s rock face in Yellowstone National Park.
Free Solo won best documentary of 2018 at the Academy Awards this year and it truly lives up to the honor. I feel as if I’m there on the rock face with him, clinging for dear life as I try to find the next hand hold.
But the rock climbing is only a small slice of the documentary. We are granted a view into Honnold’s life: his intense passion for the thrills he seeks, the life he led that brought him to this, and the woman who loves him in spite of the dangers he chooses to seek. One can look at what he does as sheer insanity but to look at his life as a whole makes you appreciate him for wanting to live life more fully, on the edge.
I find it to be fitting that Solo won best documentary. One of my first dates with my boyfriend was rock climbing and we make plans to do more of it in the future. To see what a person can do with their body in order to reach the top of the mountain is purely mesmerizing. I don’t know if I’ll ever do a free solo, but it’s definitely something amazing to watch.
I’m glad this was brought to the forefront and won well deserved recognition in film making.