Free Solo Documentary Review

The world we live in today could be considered as crazy as what was accomplished in this documentary. No one could have every predicted that the year 2020 would have unfolded the way it did. If you are looking for some good entertainment that will educate you on one of the greatest natural walls in the world, then Free Solo may be your cup of tea. What is witnessed in this documentary is extraordinary.

The Free Solo documentary is a look at Alex Honnold’s triumph over one of the greatest climbing obstacles in the world. To free solo climb is to climb without any ropes. What was attempted in this documentary is considered to be completely insane by the best climbers in the world. To do it in under four hours, is a story in itself. Hell, to film this climb is ten stories in itself. Watching this film will make you feel small and could possibly motivate you to go do something great.

His Mother Didn’t Want to Alienate Him

When Alex’s mother was interviewed in the film, she mentions not wanting to discourage Alex from climbing because she didn’t want to alienate him. She knew it was when he was climbing with no ropes that he felt most alive. And, to tell someone not to live would be holding them back from the best parts of their life. Even if it meant to lose her son.

No Response in the Amygdala

The Amygdala is the part of the brain that controls fear. In the documentary, they did an MRI on Alex Honnold’s brain to determine what type of activity he had in certain parts of his brain. Without much surprise, there was not much activity in his Amygdala as compared to the average brain.

The doctor’s breakdown of this is it takes a lot to stimulate that part of Alex’s brain. This could be how and why he decided to free solo El Capitan. No one will probably ever know as the human brain is the most misunderstood solar system in the world and most likely will never be fully understood.

Distraction Can Kill

Throughout the documentary they show Alex’s relationship with his girlfriend. While he enjoys having a girlfriend, he also finds it a distraction that is not needed while training for one of the most difficult, if not impossible feats every attempted. He mentions in the film that it wasn’t until he started dating his girlfriend that he started falling and getting hurt.

This dialogue leads you to believe the worst is going to happen when he finally attempts his ascent. To make the film more interesting, emotion is brought into the fold as Alex is now climbing for two people. Himself and the one that want’s to create a life with him.

That begs the question. What is it like loving a person with unrealistic goals? Or, is there such a thing as an unrealistic goal?

The Best Free Solo Climbers in the World are Dead

One of the most insane facts you find out about this documentary is all the best free solo climbers in the world are dead. Everyone who was considered to be an avid free solo climber and went up the mountain without ropes eventually fell to their death. And it was usually around the age of 40. To know this and attempt El Capitan without any ropes only added to the drama of the story. Moreover, many of these free solo climbers were Alex’s friends. The story is the pinnacle of man versus mountain.

Breakdown of How The Documentary Was Filmed

The two directors who were responsible for putting together this documentary discuss what it was like to film Alex Honnold. There was a lot of trust placed in these two people to capture the experience in its purest form. They had to plan and execute the filming process while staying out of Alex’s way.

The feat that was accomplished here filming this documentary could be an extraordinary full-featured film in itself. There were only a few people in the world that were skilled enough to be able to scale the El Capitan wall with over 50lbs of gear, cameras, and rope. If that wasn’t an obstacle in itself, they had to know how to properly frame a shot and still be creative while hanging hundreds, if not a couple of thousand feet above the base of the mountain. A truly unbelievable feat of amazing skill that should go down in the movie documentary hall of fame.


I don’t climb walls, bungee jump, or throw myself out of airplanes. I am more of a spectator who likes to watch and take notes. Furthermore, I like to take in the human condition, and I am fascinated by watching it play out in real life. The Free Solo documentary is exactly that. One man’s attempt at scaling the most difficult wall in the world and everyone around him trying to grasp why he feels the need to do this.

This could be asked of many people in history. There is a peace or excitement that lays upon someone when they are doing certain things in life, and humans have been trying to figure this out for ages. While the people in this film don’t have Alex figured out, one thing can be for sure. At the time of writing this, he is the best free solo climber in the world.