Documentary | In English | 96 minutes | 2018
The documentary is simple in concept: to record the death-defying climb by Alex Honnold of the 3,000 ft. El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Alex did this without a rope, which made this one of the greatest feats in the history of rock climbing. Before each climb, Alex studies the surface, entering in a notebook details about the rock. He commits all this to memory along with the moves he’s going to make to do the climb. Another issue Alex faces is his relationship with his girlfriend, Sanni McCandless. Alex almost feels that Sanni’s agony can hamper his ability to succeed. Her tears are the emotional climax of the film. A film of this magnitude required the skills of the most extraordinary cinematographers, Jimmy Chin, Clair Popkin and Mikey Schaefer. Enormous credit also goes to directors Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus) 98% 98%
- Metacritic Score 83% 83%
Academy Awards: Winner, Best Documentary
Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards: Winner, Most Innovative Documentary; Best Cinematography
British Academy Film Awards: Winner, Best Documentary
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The movie does a superb job showing the mental and physical preparation and effort required. And for all that, doubt and a little bit of fear persist, souring Honnold’s first try at a climb. By the time he preps for his second whack at it, the viewer has a pretty good idea that the guy is going to make it. It doesn’t make the magnificent final fifteen minutes of the movie any less suspenseful. It’s scary and exhilarating stuff.
I spent most of this film with my jaw on the floor. It’s a visually staggering documentary about the climber Alex Honnold, who specializes in the most mind-boggling and gasp-inducing climbs—without a rope—up sheer rock faces, the sort of thing usually undertaken by Spider-Man.
The camera captures the perspectives of those who handle it. A crew of professional climbers intricately rigged and shot Honnold’s ascents creating a visually stunning masterpiece nearly as impressive in execution as the climb itself.
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