304 user 125 critic

Free Solo (2018)

0:31 | Trailer
Alex Honnold attempts to become the first person to ever free solo climb El Capitan.
4,460 ( 191)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 28 wins & 54 nominations. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Alex Honnold ... Self
Tommy Caldwell ... Self
Jimmy Chin ... Self
Cheyne Lempe ... Self
Mikey Schaefer ... Self
Sanni McCandless ... Self
Dierdre Wolownick ... Self
Peter Croft ... Self


Alex Honnold attempts to become the first person to ever free solo climb El Capitan.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Live Beyond Fear

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Alex was studied with "fMRI" or functional MRI, which follows localized blood flow in the range of seconds which increases with increased neural activity. The interpretation presented in the film suggests Alex had a decreased response to fearful stimuli (pictures of sinking ships, knives, etc.) since there doesn't appear to be increased activity in the amygdala as compared to other subjects considered to be "normal." See more »


Tommy Caldwell: Imagine an Olympic-gold-medal-level athletic achievement that, if you don't get that gold medal, you're gonna die. That's pretty much what free soloing El Cap is like.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The Disney+ version of this title replaces "f***ed up" with "messed up", later overdubbing a usage of "goddamn". See more »


Referenced in Family Guy: Start Me Up (2020) See more »


Hyde & Pine
Written by Aaron Mort, Avi Vinocur, Shannon Koehler, Spence Koehler
Performed by The Stone Foxes
Published by Embassy Music Corporation (BMI), Music Sales Corporation (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Embassy Music Corporation
See more »

User Reviews

More about masculine emotional maturity than free solo climbing
18 February 2019 | by CineMuseFilmsSee all my reviews

A documentary about climbing solo up sheer vertical cliffs without safety ropes sounds too crazy-masculine to contain a gentle story of emotional awakening. While Free Solo (2018) celebrates athletic triumph it is also a thoughtful essay on mortality, fear, and self-identity, as it probes into the heart and mind of an elite athlete in an extreme sport.

By his mid-30s, Alex Honnold had achieved a world-class reputation for solo climbing, but despite his achievements, he was taunted by the unconquered El Capitan cliff face of Yosemite National Park. Together with an expert team of photographer climbers, he sets about the rigorous physical and mental preparation for the 3000 feet ascent. For most of the film, we watch him planning and repeatedly climbing El Capitan with safety gear, while documenting every single step and manoeuvre needed for what would be an historic free solo to the top.

While this simple, linear narrative is predictable from the outset, the photography and character study are sublime. Panoptic drones capture close-ups of Alex on vertical granite walls, showing breathtaking toeholds in tiny recesses that barely grip. During the arduous preparation, Alex has an MRI scan that reveals an inert amygdala...a part of the brain that regulates emotion. Coming from a broken home and obsessed in his pursuit of climbing perfection, Alex has no fear and is emotionally closed. The only fear shown in the film is felt by his crew who must mentally rehearse the possibility that they will witness a close friend's death. The hitherto accident-free athlete enters a relationship with the emotionally warm, wise, and beautiful Sanni McCandless, and for the first time he experiences fall injuries.

With an easy broad smile, wide eyes, and vulnerable humility, Alex is a very likeable young man. His blossoming relationship with Sanni unfolds with childlike simplicity and growing emotional responsibility, while they are both aware that free soloing El Capitan means Alex will always be one slip from certain death. This fly-on-the-wall documentary eavesdrops on a few private moments to reveal a dilemma: Alex's dormant emotional self is being stirred, but he must overcome it to face what is a super-human challenge.

Some viewers will notice the unbounded selfishness required to put others through the stress of Alex's personal pursuit while he is relatively free from the constraints of human emotion. Others will see Alex as a heroic protagonist in his own tortured life journey, or maybe wonder what bravery means if one feels no fear. No doubt there are other viewpoints and readings of this film. Regardless of what message you take, this is a riveting story, brilliantly filmed amongst some of the most stunning mountain scenery you will ever see.

25 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 304 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.


Official Sites:

Official Site | Official site [Japan] | See more »





Release Date:

13 December 2018 (New Zealand) See more »

Also Known As:

Free Solo See more »

Filming Locations:

Yosemite, California, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$294,288, 30 September 2018

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed