Free Solo - Barney's Incorrect Five Second Reviews

Free Solo - Barney's Incorrect Five Second Reviews

Black Barney     
383   0

Really glad I saw this on the big screen as the cinematography is amazing. This movie was clearly shot by seasoned rock-climbers. If you have a single drop of vertigo in your body, you will feel it in this one. Also glad I knew nothing about this free solo rock climber beforehand and I'd strongly recommend not reading up on it before seeing the film.

One sound bite that you hear one-third into the film that haunts you for pretty much the rest of it was, "none of the well-known free solo climbers are alive." So this one scene of the day before Alex attempts to solo climb El Cap in Yosemite, when he's talking to his g/f and you realize he's trying not to tell her that he's planning to do it, but she senses it.... it's actually one of the more stressful scenes in the film. You feel her concern, you feel him wanting to protect her from this and keep her out of it. In fact, that whole relationship is a really cool part of this documentary. When they buy a house together and she's measuring everything and he couldn't care less.... these scenes will speak to a number of us in different ways.

At one point I was wondering how immersed I was in the movie (always a sign that it's a good one), after Alex had got up at 3:30am in order to attempt a free solo climb. I'm looking at the movie and I'm wondering, "He didn't want to tell his g/f he was going to try it, I wonder if he told the film crew..."  and then ultimately realizing I'm watching footage of him walking as I'm actually thinking this. So obviously SOMEONE is filming this. At that point I realized I was fairly immersed in the movie :)

It's an astonishing movie and most of the real drama is watching his filmmaking friends' reactions to Alex doing free solo as they wonder if they're about to lose this friend of theirs. Some of the filmmakers can't even watch and they're supposed to be making a movie! Those scenes are gripping and remarkably dramatic.

The other part that really spoke to me was at one point Alex says that casual rock-climbers will think it's cool and will 'get it' as to what Alex is attempting by doing free solo climbers. Whereas any true professional hard-core climber will think he's absolutely nuts. Slipping and losing footing is a very normal part of rock climbing. I did it in college and it was nerve-wracking to say the least.

Imagine doing it without gear.

Imagine trying to do it up a 3,000 foot slab of granite.

...can't imagine it? Go see this movie.

Free Solo - Barney's Incorrect Five Second Reviews There Will Be Games

Editor rating

Black Barney
Overall rating 


Movie Title
Free Solo

One sound bite that you hear one-third into the film that haunts you for pretty much the rest of it was, "none of the well-known free solo climbers are alive."

Patrick "Black Barney" SullivanFollow PatrickSullivan

Movie Reviewer

Patrick "Barney" Sullivan is a divorced father of one beautiful girl who he drags to the movies whenever he can, searching for the perfect family flick. Here, he writes movie reviews for us whenever he can but word to the wise.... Michael Barnes was heard saying once that Barney is « mostly wrong about everything » and that’s probably not far off. If you end up loving one of the films he points you too, be sure to let him know. It’s a thrill for him as he desperately needs validation.

Log in to comment
Posted: 16 Nov 2018 20:59 by Gary Sax #286310
Gary Sax's Avatar
I saw another review of this, thanks for the thoughts.

I've never thought much of climbers as a hiker myself. It's about something really different (tingling that part of their brain) that has nothing really to do with the outdoors. They tend to be extremely shitty about leave no trace, I think for that reason.

It's funny, people group outdoorspeople into the same category but they absolutely are not. In my experience many pastimes are about conquering the outdoors, not being with it. Climbing is one. It's fine, just personal preference, but the urge comes from super different places imho.
Posted: 16 Nov 2018 22:27 by Space Ghost #286315
Space Ghost's Avatar
Yeah, I love hiking and just being with nature -- watching animals, the whole thing. Doesn't matter whether it is caves or mountains.

Sax - have you climbed Mt. Wheeler yet? It's a pretty nice day hike, good chance to see some sheep, marmots, and what not.
Posted: 17 Nov 2018 13:29 by Josh Look #286327
Josh Look's Avatar
Posted: 17 Nov 2018 13:37 by Black Barney #286329
Black Barney's Avatar
Yeah I hate hiking but really enjoy the challenge of a climb. I think it scratches that same area that gets gamers off. Trying to defeat and better something.

In college my rock climbing professor guy was a big leave no trace advocate on our big trip, which just bugged me cuz all I wanted to do was climb. Which I think supports your point , Gary. I wasn’t in it for the environment aspect at all. At the end he made us all walk for 20 minutes in different directions, sit there along for 30 minutes and then come back. With the idea that it would make us appreciate the outdoors more.

I sat there for two minutes and got bored so I climbed the closest tree to the top and then looked over the forest line at the rest of the forest, it was actually pretty surreal. Well done professor. I think Frodo does it in Mirkwood at one point and the experience was similar for me. Very peaceful at the top.
Posted: 17 Nov 2018 16:25 by Gary Sax #286336
Gary Sax's Avatar
Absolutely. There's that version of hiking which is conquering too. Again, it's fine. Same with rock climbing. It's just not in my mental makeup. As long as they take great care not to damage the environment, they can conquer away.

Haven't been up Wheeler Peak yet... we haven't done any of the tall mountains in NM. Would like to. We've done some of the peaks around here in northern AZ though.