The Most Magnificent Crack On Planet Earth

Free Solo Review

I remember years ago being asked to go to the cinema by a friend. The film we ended up seeing was Touching the Void. I swear that I had completely soaked my shirt watching the film, through sheer and utter terror of what was happening to the two unfortunate climbers. As they say history repeats itself as I'm once again enthralled and feeling the tension as the climax of Free Solo starts to take hold. This is despite the fact I already know how the story is going to end.  

This documentary follow Alex Hunnold as he attempts to free solo El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. The term free soloing meaning climbing without safety ropes. Now this type of climbing isn't new however, this wall happens to be 1000 m high. The free solo event of the film takes place during the last 20 minutes of the movie. The film does a good job of building up the challenges of tackling such a challenging climb, which seems impossible in certain sections. 

The structure of the documentary follows that of the well known tropes of a typical sports movie. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, in fact the events that Alex goes through are important to the climax of the film. Alex comes across as a likeable person and an accomplished climber. The film takes some time to establish his background, and what he was like in his youth. Even by the end of the film, he still comes across as a bit of a blank slate. The focus should be on his actions and achievements rather than on his personality.

The cinematography is amazing and I wasn't surprised to find that the film won a best documentary Academy Award in 2019. It certainly does its best at putting the viewer into the climbing shoes of Alex as he tackles El Capitan. This film is definitely worth spending the time with and being enthralled with the brilliant climbing sequences and the most magnificent crack in the world. 


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