"Free Solo" Movie Review: The Oscar-winner, Must-see Movie Has Now Arrived In India!

Jyotis |Apr 20, 2019

The recent Academy Awards awarded "Free Solo", directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin finally came to India. Don't miss this gem!

If you are a perfectionist striving for the flawlessness, then free soloing is meant for you, said Alex Honnold. Nevertheless, the irony of life is that not so many people are perfectionists while those who are would mostly refuse to risk their lives by climbing steep, towering mountains without any protection of equipment.

Climbing steep towering mountains
Image: Hindustan Times

If this is the first time you have ever heard of free soloing, check out the infamous opening scene in Mission: Impossible 2. However, that kind of explanation would displease people like Honnold who has a better-matched illustration. “It is like an Olympic gold medal level achievement where if you don’t get the gold medal, you die.”

The recent Oscars’ Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature has gone to Free Solo, directed by the husband-wife couple Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin of the National Geographic. Watch the Free Solo trailer here:

Free Solo is now released this week on the biggest screens of the select theaters. The movie features Honnold, world’s first recognized free soloist, on his way to challenge the 900-meter high rock El Capitan in the Yosemite National Park. If this ‘mission impossible’ is accomplished, Honnold would be the first pioneer to go down in history.

Honnold is a living subject for every documentary maker. He chooses a quiet life in a van despite having a reasonable income and considerable fame. He cooks and eats from the same bowl, drinks directly from the water container and sleeps on a cramped bed. Everything in his small “house” which is inconvenient has meaningless compared to his passion.

900-meter tall rock El Capitan
Image: Hindustan Times

To study how his mind can achieve such a state of fearlessness, Honnold got an MRI test. The result is unexpected. In his brain, there is a particular area that eats up stimuli. It does not mean he can’t react to excitement but the other way around, he needs more. It is also questionable that he receives this from his father who suffers from the Aspergers. His mind’s world is surrounded by philosophical insight. “I am a dark soul.”

Yet he does not mind seeking for happiness, or to be exact, the ordinary happiness everyone else is looking for nowadays. He finds the true contentment and joy in climbing, which to him, is just as heroic as finding the meaning of life for the universe. “The point of life is happiness, and to be fulfilled,” said Honold, “but for me, it’s all about performance. Anybody can be happy and cozy, but nothing good happens in the world by being happy and cozy.”

Honnold’s frightening desire for perfection has ceased from a mere self-challenge to a hungry beast, demands every single part of his life to feed it continuously. With Honnold, El Cap is not only a famous climbing site to conquer, but a trophy for the true legend.

climbing steep towering mountains
Image: Hindustan Times

Watching the film will easily remind us of Timothy Treadwell in “Grizzly Man” by Werner Herzog - a fearless bear expert who would not be afraid to glare the death stare right into the abyss. Free Solo’s Honnold is just that kind of man. Each scene of him climbing on the vertical rock face is filled with the magnetic determine and concentration. He catapulted his mind out of this world, into a dimension that enables him to dance around life and death, only millimeters from the other.

And never forget the masterful skills behind these images. The filmmaker did such beautiful work by capturing so precisely the epic moment while still preventing anything else from getting in Honnold’s way. It is no one but Jimmy Chin who was always with Honnold on the rock in the motion, side by side, camera on hands. The edit. The photographs. The film score. It seems like Honnold is not the only one to be obsessed with perfection. Chin and Vasarhelyi were making sure Free Solo would not be a typical daredevil thrilling action movie. It is first and foremost the insight into the mind of a real human but unquestionably not the ordinary. It is obviously unmistakable.


Sort by Newest | Popular