8/10 I ranked “Free Solo” as the 9th Best Film of 2018 and re-watched it right before seeing this film. It holds up extremely well and still blows me away at how impressive Alex Honnold’s accomplishments with free soloing are. I didn’t think I could be more impressed by a professional climber. Then I saw this film which is as equally impressive as “Free Solo”. Marc-Andre Leclerc, who I had never heard of, is the subject of this story and I couldn’t believe that I was even more blown away by his accomplishments. Free soloing is basically rock climbing with no ropes. It’s extremely difficult and dangerous. Yet Leclerc takes things a step further by doing the same thing but on slippery, snow covered mountains. So as opposed to the still difficult dry rocks, now you have to take into account how slippery the terrain is, your hands going numb due to cold, avalanches, not being able to see where to put your hands/feet next due to the mountain being covered and often not even knowing which trail to take up the mountain beforehand. Where rock climbing free solo feels challenging and impressive, free soloing in the Alpines feels certifiably insane. Leclerc climbs up frozen snow, which theoretically could give away under his body weight at any moment, unlike regular rocky terrain. There are so many moments in this film where you watch him climb and just become overwhelmed with anxiety at how dangerous his climbing attempts are. All the while, he remains completely calm and relaxed, feeling alive and clearing his mind while he climbs. The subject matter is extremely interesting, the pacing is perfect (the film is only an hour and a half), the cinematography was extremely impressive, etc. Speaking of the cinematography, you could tell that drones were utilized to great effect and some of the shots these film makers pulled off were more impressive than anything in “Free Solo”. To make matters even more difficult, at least Honnold was a willing participant in his documentary whereas Leclerc turned out to be quite the opposite. For the film makers to get ghosted for months at a time by their subject matter and have to use social media and other outlets to track him down was impressive. While Leclerc’s honorable passion to climb alone was noble and pure of heart, I could definitely see the frustrations with his lack of communication. The film will make you feel uneasy the entire time due to what you are watching but luckily there are a couple of moments of humor to temporarily relax you. You don’t have to even be a big fan of rock climbing or know much about it as the film tells you all you need to know and has strong interviews throughout the film. Watching “Free Solo” and then “The Alpinist” back to back (able to be accomplished in roughly three hours) is the perfect rockumentary double feature that will help you appreciate the beauty and danger of nature and open up a window into the soul of a man who made his passion his entire life. Inspiring and motivational, these films are a must watch.

#FreezeSolo / #ProducedBySummitEntertainment / #TheMountainOfYouth / #EarnsFullMarcs / #GoodClimbsHadByAll / #ClimbDoesPay

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