Wow how time flies. It’s truly that time again, to give out my annual Documentary of the Year Award. Every year since way back in 2016 I have passed out this prestigious award, given to the best (or in 2016, the only) documentary that I watched this year. So without further ado, and ignoring that I just posted a screenshot of the movie and also have the name of the movie directly in the title of this blog, this year’s grand winner is…..drumroll please…..”FREE SOLO”!!!
I’ve blogged about Alex Honnold before. In case you are unfamiliar with who he is, Alex is the best rock climber in the world, and the best to ever live. You can reasonably argue he is better at his job than anyone in the world is at theirs, that’s how advanced he is at climbing. He decided he wanted to do the hardest climb in history- Free soloing “El Cap” in Yosemite. The thing about El Cap is it is a hard wall to climb with ropes, and Alex wanted to do them without any. Meaning…yes…if he fell, he’d die. Now, he had free soloed walls many times before, but nothing even close to that difficult. Advanced climbers with ropes turn around on El Cap because it’s too hard. You can read more about his climb in this blog here.
So what do you do when you’re about to do the impossible? You get your films to document the entire thing. Climber/film maker Jimmy Chin directed the movie, and it’s incredible. It shows his preparation for it, his mindset, and you really get to see how incredible of a human Alex Honnold is. His brain is on another level. All he cares about is climbing and pushing himself to do the impossible. He is void of emotions, and there is a hilarious scene where he tells his girlfriend point blank that he does not factor in her feelings when it comes to climbing. She can either deal with it or not, he is going to climb regardless. It’s incredible.
What’s riveting is not just Honnold, but how they really get you to see just how insanely difficult this climb is. It’s 3,000 feet of intense climbing, without a rope. How high is 3,000 feet? Not too high, right? Wrong. The Empire State Building is 1,454 feet base to tip. 1 WTC is 1,792. The tallest building in the world isn’t even as high as the wall he climbed, straight up, without ropes. One wrong blink, one bad gust of wind, he’s done. He’s finished.
Free Solo is in cities all across the country now and in the coming weeks. I cannot recommend it more. I might go again this weekend. Just incredible, incredible, incredible stuff.