Fans of the 2015 climbing documentary “Meru”, the heart-pounding expedition up the 21,000-foot Shark’s Fin in northern India, will find this newest production from that film’s directors just as nerve-wrecking and free-spiriting.
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and her husband, Jimmy Chin, capture this year’s most thrilling true-life story in “Free Solo,” the nail-biting, rope-free attempt to scale the world’s most recognizable mountain face by climber Alex Honnold.
“Free Solo” offers a front-row seat to Honnold’s daring trek up Yosemite National Park’s trademark El Capitan 3,200-foot cliff using only his Herculean fingertips, steady feet and laser-focused mindset. The movie’s backdrop cinematography and impressive depth perception traces Honnold’s ascent along every grasp of the granite wall.
A National Geographic Documentary Films production, “Free Solo” provides several explosive matchups for viewers to witness first-hand, aside from the Man vs. Mountain headliner starring Honnold. Just as interesting are the relationships with Honnold that grow strained and stressed by friends, family and the camera crew—all left to wonder if they’ve said “goodbye” to the renowned climber for the last time.
Also depicted are the reflections and thoughts by other world-famous free soloing climbers, shaking their heads in disbelief at Honnold’s kamikaze adventure. One specific point “Free Solo” drives home is the magnitude of this climbing challenge. To the novice mountain climber, Honnold’s task is daunting and extraordinary. But to the handful of world free solo climbers talented enough to try El Capitan and yet refuse to without the safety of ropes, find Honnold’s hand-over-hand quest crazy and mind-blowing.
Honnold’s chilling and suspenseful climb encapsulates both the mental and physical adversity he faces throughout the El Capitan ordeal. His body’s superhero strength and exterior muscles matched muscle-for-muscle by this inner determination and will. The consequences never more final than a plunge to his death with one distraction or miscalculation. “Free Solo” marks the ultimate human feat: A game of survival to achieve a lifelong dream.
Released in only selected theaters, “Free Solo” comes to Arizona this week. In the Tucson area, “Free Solo” can be found at The Loft Cinema (3233 E. Speedway Blvd.) starting Friday, Oct. 19.
“Free Solo” is rated PG with a running time of 1 hour and 40 minutes.