D: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin
National Geographic/Little Monster (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Shannon Dill & Evan Hayes)
USA 🇺🇸 2018
DP: Jimmy Chin, Clair Popkin & Mikey Schaefer
Ed: Bob Eisenhardt
Mus: Marco Beltrami
Alex Hannold, Sanni McCandless, Tommy Caldwell, Jimmy Chin
Free Solo is an intrepid piece of documentary filmmaking which focuses on the life and career of Alex Hannold, a thrill-seeking mountaineer who undertook the achievement of climbing El Capitan, a 3,000 rock face in the Yosemite National Park, without the assistance of ropes, harnesses and safety equipment. A feat where there is no margin for error and the slightest mistake would lead to certain death.
The film shows Hannold's preparation for the climb, featuring candid interviews with his family, girlfriend and friends who appreciate he's made a living out of doing what he loves, but also that his next climb could be his last.
As well as being about a daredevil climbing endeavour, the film is also a love letter to the beauty of American National Parks, utilising cutting edge drone photography to capture their magnificence.
As someone who wouldn't even dream of undertaking something so dangerous, this is a piece of filmmaking which had me perched on the edge of my seat throughout, even in the scenes which didn't feature any climbing.