In its opening sequence new documentary Free solo is enough to induce vertigo. Husband and wife directing team Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s incredible film is about Free solo climber Alex Honnold and his attempt to climb El Capitan in California’s Yosemite National Park. Free solo (soloing) is the dangerous sport of climbing cliffs without the safety of ropes or harnesses. They use their bare hands and light climbing shoes, finding small crevices to hold onto. It looks like a crazy stunt or an impossible task to us mere humans. El Capitan stands at 3,000 feet and is the mother of all cliffs. Any fall will surely be fatal. If Honnold lives in his van it’s not because he’s poor. He’s a successful author and lecturer. He lives in his van because it’s more convenient. He can park his van near the mountains he plans to climb. We see him climbing El Capitan with ropes and a harness until he’s ready soloing. Now Alex Honnold has a new girlfriend. He met Sanni Mccandless at a book signing. So Alex has someone else beside himself to think about when he decides to climb El Capitan. Meru was an earlier documentary by Chin and Vasarhelyi and as we see in Free solo, their images are nothing short of spectacular. In its last segment Free solo becomes the best edge-of-your-seat, hold-your-breath documentary. Most impressive.
Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi