A stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of free soloist climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the world’s most famous rock - the 3,200-foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park … without a rope.
From award-winning documentary filmmaker E. Chai Vasarhelyi and world-renowned photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin, the directors of “MERU,” comes FREE SOLO, a stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of free soloist climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the world’s most famous rock ... the 3,200-foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park … without a rope. Celebrated as one of the greatest athletic feats of any kind, Honnold’s climb set the ultimate standard: perfection or death. Succeeding in this challenge places his story in the annals of human achievement. FREE SOLO is an edge-of-your seat thriller and an inspiring portrait of an athlete who challenges both his body and his beliefs on a quest to triumph over the impossible, revealing the personal toll of excellence. As the climber begins his training, the armor of invincibility he’s built up over decades unexpectedly breaks apart when Honnold begins to fall in love, threatening his focus and giving way to injury and setbacks. Vasarhelyi and Chin succeed in beautifully capturing deeply human moments with Honnold as well as the death-defying climb with exquisite artistry and masterful, vertigo-inducing camerawork. The result is a triumph of the human spirit that represents what The New York Times calls "a miraculous opportunity for the rest of us to experience the human sublime."
FREE SOLO is an intensely personal film. I’m married to a climber and interested in the emotional questions around climbing. It was important to me that the film explore not only Alex’s internal dialogues, but also his personal relationships — those with family and friends, and the nascent relationship between Alex and his girlfriend, Sanni McCandless. We wanted to look at how Sanni lives with the risks Alex takes and how Alex deals with balancing his climbing aspirations with his personal life. The incredibly candid scenes between Alex and Sanni will always stay with me. We wrestled with including the meta conversation around our filmmaking process. Ultimately, it was clear that the filmmaking itself was an important part of the story. Every day presented ethical questions of risk and filmmaking. It was an ongoing process between Jimmy and me as directors and Alex as our subject. But Alex is not a maverick, he’s incredibly methodical. It was the process that allowed his free solo to succeed. Alex’s story has a strong aspirational quality that affected me deeply, and I wanted to pass on these vivid questions to the viewer: “If Alex can do this with his fear, what can I do with mine? What are the frontiers of the human spirit?” Those are some of the larger themes I wanted to explore in FREE SOLO. In its essence the film calls deliberate attention to the choices that we make: What’s a meaningful life and why?