Friday, November 23, 2018

Free Solo - "Alex Honnold and the Pursuit of Perfect"

See. This. Movie.

Knowing of Alex Honnold from previous stories on his free solo climbing accomplishments, I was intrigued and excited to learn not only that he had free soloed El Capitan, the "center of the rock climbing universe" and the most incredible rock wall on earth, but also that a film crew had been there to capture it all. And now that I've seen it, I am all the more amazed. The climb was a monumental task that is a remarkable human achievement and may be the greatest athletic feat of all time. The film does it all justice. Free Solo from filmmakers Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi is, in a single word, breathtaking.

Learning intimately the story of Alex Honnold and the El Cap climb was a fascinating, inspiring, and, for me actually, emotionally draining experience, for it was joining a truly unique human being as he sought the edge of human achievement and pushed that edge to an area many never thought it could go. Man has always been fascinated by dominant physical achievement and the pursuit of excellence. It was integral to the culture of the Greeks, and it was a primary element of the Heroic Ideal found in the stories of early epic heroes such as Beowulf. We love excellence. We are fascinated by it, and in many ways, we revere it. As we should. For by pushing the boundaries of physical achievement, we develop tangible evidence of just what is possible. Experiencing the arduous process of imagining, envisioning, planning, practicing, and finally achieving a free solo climb of El Capitan is a truly gratifying experience. Interestingly, the movie feels like a thriller at times, which is pretty cool considering we know how the movie ends. But, during the actual climb I must say that my palms were literally sweaty. It was a captivating bit of film to say the least.

In some ways, this is a movie about an athlete. But in other ways this is a significant, meaningful, and important film about a legendary moment in time.

It is in Alex's own words "delightful."

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