Released in September, Free Solo documents the first solo free climb of El Capitan in Yosemite without safety equipment. It’s a harrowing documentary, and one made all the more apparent thanks to a mini-documentary from the New York Times. The paper dives behind the camera to ask filmmakers Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi a question which plagued the filmmakers.
What if he falls?
You have to understand what Alex Honnold was attempting with a free climb of El Capitan. The summit is 3000 feet up, and without safety equipment, one slip and Alex falls to his death.
“Chai and I needed to step back and take some time to really think if this was something we wanted to take on,” Chin says. “I’m aware that a camera changes the dynamic in some small way. And when the margins of success and failure are very, very thin, you just don’t know what it’s going to be that might tip the scale.”
The duo ended up agreeing to film Alex’s journey, and on June 3, 2017, he completed the four-hour climb considered to be the greatest feat in rock climbing history. The documentary has gone on to win numerous awards and is easily one of the best films of the year.
Check out the trailer and Honnold’s TED Talk below: