Free Solo:Climbing New Heights at the Oscars

Mariam Rizkalla, Staff Writer

Sunday, February 24th, marked the 91st Academy Awards ceremony. Several outstanding works were credited and selected for the Oscars, including Free Solo in the Best Documentary Film category.

  Directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Free Solo had also been recognized as Best Documentary by the British Association of Film and Television Arts several weeks ago and has successfully earned $19 million at the box office.

  The Oscar-winning documentary features professional rock-climber Alex Honnold as he attempts to ascend the first free solo climb of the El Capitan’s 900-meter vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park. One of the features that sets this film apart from others is its emphasis on the climber’s compelling background story.

  Dhriti Veeramachaneni (10), a supporter of the film, said, “I [am] thrilled to hear that Free Solo won the Best Documentary Oscar. It is, indeed, an unusual film and contains so much inspiration. Unlike the majority of movies nowadays, this film is very meaningful and portrays so many valuable life lessons such as courage and perseverance.”

  Alex Honnold is a very unusual and unique man. He lived in a van at the time the film began shooting. The film starts off with narration and archival footage that beautifully portrays Honnold’s childhood and his discovery of climbing. His passion and pursuit of climbing brought him fame and money, which he invested into a nonprofit company that brings technology to underdeveloped portions of the world.

  As for Honnold’s social life, the film portrays him navigating his way through his first romantic relationship with Sanni McCandless.

  The most interesting aspect of this movie is the job it does at presenting the physical and mental preparation Honnold had to undergo to conquer such a challenging task. Another notable scene was near the end of the film, when Honnold prepares for his second attempt. The audience can already predict that he is going to make it, yet the final parts still remain exciting and suspenseful.

  Sandy Youssef (10), expressed her opinion on the film stating, “In my opinion, what sets this film apart from others is that it [is] real. Not only does it present challenges of all sorts, but it is also a quintessential demonstration of determination, which is why it connects to the audience on a deeper emotional level. I found it very motivational and am sure that most viewers did too.”

  The 2018 documentary has received much critical success, as it was rated 98% by Rotten Tomatoes and 96% by viewers.