Free Solo

Discussion in 'Movies' started by DustinDavis, Mar 3, 2019.

  1. DustinDavis

    DustinDavis Well-Known Member

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    For those unfamiliar with the name Alex Honnold, he is the world's premier free solo rock climber. "Free solo" means without ropes, by himself. Basically he hits the wall with his hands, his clothes, and a bag of chalk. This movie is about Alex and his dream of climbing the world's premier rock face--El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, a 3200-foot vertical wall of granite.

    If you watched the excellent Meru, you will recognize some of the characters, namely Jimmy Chin, one of the mountaineers from that movie, and who co-directs Free Solo. Just filming Free Solo is a real challenge, or at least the director all the photographers made it so, as they climbed with ropes and cameras to strategic points to film Alex's feat.

    It's so interesting to see the dichotomy in Alex's mindset vs. everyone else's. The guy is a climbing machine with apparently little fear or conscience. He claims he doesn't want to die and takes great pain not to, given the risks inherent in his craft. At the same time he appears to show little concern for those who seem to fear the inevitable more than he--his girlfriend, who he makes it very clear carries no weight next to his passion for climbing, and his friends and the director/photographers, who you can see are far more worried about Alex than he seems to be about himself or those who care about him. It's a confusing blend of intimacy and sociopathy that seems to define Alex--or perhaps leaves one unable to define him.

    In any case his feats are incredible, as is the footage. The peril of every grip and every step is so made so palpable by the incredible camera work from his fellow climbers (all on ropes). His ultimately successful climb took my breath away. Not figuratively--I was wide-eyed and gasping, safe and sound in my media room. If it's the closest I ever get to to that sort of danger, I'm just fine with that.

    Highly recommended. I'm going to follow this up with a couple of related films:

    1) Valley Uprising, which is a history of rock climbing in Yosemite, and
    2) The Dawn Wall, also about a climb up El Capitan, but on a route that I don't think could be free soloed. Two climbers took 19 painstaking days to climb this route with ropes.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
  2. Barry_NJ

    Barry_NJ Well-Known Member

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    It isn't available for free on Netflix or Prime (rental here), but Netflix has Valley Uprising, which I've added to my list.
     
  3. DustinDavis

    DustinDavis Well-Known Member

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    I enjoyed Valley Uprising but found it romanticized in a way that Free Solo is not. Strongly preferred the latter.

    BTW I rented Free Solo. Worth the six bucks.
     
  4. Dennis Pagoulatos

    Dennis Pagoulatos Well-Known Member

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    Yosemite might be my favorite place on the planet and this guy was already a legend before he did this, so I can’t wait to see the film!
     
  5. DustinDavis

    DustinDavis Well-Known Member

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    Coincidentally, The Dawn Wall appeared on Netflix since I started this thread. I just finished it. Different kind of challenge with different set of consequences from Honnold's climb. But really great.
     
  6. Denton

    Denton Bronze Member Donor Top Poster

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    I was fortunate enough to see "Free Solo" in an IMAX theater. The huge image just added to the sense of risk involved. Amazing.
     
  7. JeffC

    JeffC Well-Known Member Donor

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    It was shown commercial free on NatGeo Sunday I think? I have it on my DVR and started it. Looks good.
     
  8. John Celardo

    John Celardo Well-Known Member Donor

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    Scary stuff. One of my cousins climbs, but he uses ropes. I can't imagine the amount of self confidence it takes to climb El Cap with only a cup of powder.

    Denton, you're right. I watched it on my projector and 6' screen, and it was OK. This is definitely a big-screen movie.
     
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