As someone who's scared of heights, I find just staring down an escalator at a shopping mall an intense experience. So, when I heard about Free Solo, a documentary about one man's ascent up a 900-metre rock without ropes or safety gear, I felt a little woozy. It sounds like my absolute worst nightmare. So, obviously, I'm going to watch it. Free Solo was released in the U.S. on Sept. 28, 2018, but how do us Brits get in on the action? Well, here's how to watch Free Solo in the UK.
Free Solo was produced by National Geographic and focuses on 33-year-old professional climber Alex Honnold and his attempt to become the first free solo climber to scale El Capitan, an iconic rock formation in California's Yosemite National Park. The El Capitan climb was Honnold's most terrifying challenge to date.
Interest surrounding the documentary has sky rocketed in both the U.S. and the UK ever since it was nominated for an Oscar on Jan. 22, 2019, as Variety reported. But that's not the only accolade Free Solo's got going for it. It also took home a People's Choice Award at the 2018 Tornto Film Festival, as Indie Wire reported, and the New York Times declared Honnold's climb it to be "one of the greatest athletic feats of any kind ever."
Speaking about the way in which Free Solo's directors — husband and wife Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi — structured the documentary, Fast Company breaks it down into three narrative threads: Honnold the climber (which looks at his motivations for "such a monumental challenge") and Honnold the man (his life outside of climbing, and his background story), as well as the the actual process of "filming such a feat to begin with." Because, apparently, it isn't easy to capture a man climbing up a 900-metre cliff face. Who knew.
That's all well and good (and by good, I of course mean terrifying), but how will we get to see this climb for ourselves? Fear not — or do — because Free Solo is currently showing in select UK cinemas. You can enter your location on the film's official site to see if it's showing near you. Or, if you don't fancy a trip to the cinema, there is a 'Watch At Home' option on the website, where you can find a list of places to pre-order Free Solo. Thankfully, there are a variety of choices: the documentary will be available from Amazon, HMV, Dogwoof, and Zavvi. The film is also coming soon to National Geographic.
Free Solo's first official UK trailer was released on Oct. 29, 2018, and just that snippet alone left me feeling faint. But one Youtube commenter wrote:
"Watched this last night with my lifelong vertigo, sweating palms and maxed out pulse ... Seeing this through to the end made me realise that most people just aren't trying hard enough. To achieve your goals you have to prove to yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to. Alex goes further than most in completing his dream climb of a lifetime."
I'm going to take his advice and start climbing the stairs instead of taking the escalator.
Some people choose to climb up 900-metre rocks to just break a sweat, but I think I'll break a sweat simply watching Honnold do it, and that's enough for me.