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free solo

Directors: Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (meru)



REVIEWER: lyall carter


Professional rock climber Alex Honnold attempts to conquer the first free solo climb of famed El Capitan's 900-metre vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park.

I must admit that when I first heard of Free Solo I really didn't want to see it. Not because I don't like nature, adventure, or high risk sport documentaries but because I really, REALLY, hate heights. Heights are my kryptonite. But Free Solo - what a hell of a journey. 

Free Solo follows Alex Honnold, a free solo climber (climber's who climb without ropes), as he attempts to pull off what no other free climber has done before: ascend the 900 metre vertical rock face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. 

Throughout Free Solo we witness Honnold's attempt to climb El Capitan without ropes, we see his rigourous training rituals, his meticulous planning, and we learn about his life growing up. All of which are completely awe inspiring. But its not necessarily Honnold's actions that captivated me to this doco: its Honnold himself. 

Free Solo goes far deeper than any other documentary in recent memory with its innate ability to extract from Honnold not only his climbing psyche but his motivation and drive. And what we see is nothing short of extraordinary. 

We discover what it really takes to be the best, to achieve, to dominate any chosen field. We see Honnold's single vision that won't let anything stand in his way. But he's not super human, he's not untouchable. We see his failings (some of them very physically painful) but most importantly we see how he readjusts and learns from his mistakes. 

One of the best documentaries in recent memory. Find it. Watch it. Sit there in awe. 


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Free Solo is available on DVD and digital from all good disc and digital retailers. 

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