2018, Movies

Free Solo (2018, Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi)

I thought I wanted to see this movie in theatres. Watching it on the small screen, I think I’m okay with not seeing it in theatres. I’m not sure I would have been able to watch some of it in theatres because I have a fear of heights.

SPOILERS if you don’t know anything at all about what happens in the movie.

So this movie is about a free climber and his attempt to climb El Capitain, ostensibly the largest rock face in the entire world, at roughly 3,000 feet tall. Free climbing is climbing without a rope. This guy is well known as a free climber, having free climbed a number of rock faces that had never been free climbed before.

The movie follows him in his preparation for the climb but, like most of these films, also covers a bit of his personal and professional life, and his life history. I don’t know anything about climbing really and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a feature documentary about a free climber before, so for me this is all new and interesting. (It also helps that Alex is a reflective person, so we get some climbing philosophy.)

But the real reason to watch this film is the filming of free climbing. The crew are climbers themselves and climb the mountains with him (with ropes). Moreover, they use drones o get helicopter-type shots without the logistical and financial problems of using a helicopter. This is particularly incredible when he climbs El Capitain, when we are treated to some absolutely fantastic shots of a human being doing something utterly incredible. Even on the small screen, you get a sense of the height, and it’s terrifying.

Honestly, climbing is something I’ll never do. Free climbing is the stuff of my nightmares. This is the closest I’ll ever come to experiencing something like this, and this is a pretty incredible way to do it.

I am really glad I didn’t see it in theatres. I might have been covering my eyes half the time.

9/10

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