The Dawn Wall (2017)
Updated: Jul 31, 2019
There’s a wealth of docs out there about climbing and several about climbing El Capitan. This one goes in depth, not only into the magnitude of the cliff face, but also the climbers, their background and the reasons they do something as seemingly bonkers as free climbing a 3000ft shear rock face. Where this doc differs from others I’ve seen though, is it feels more in the moment. It’s a blow by blow account of the attempt by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson as they attempt to climb The Dawn Wall, a previously thought to be unclimbable section of El Capitan. The detail is pretty amazing, putting you the viewer on the rock... and that’s terrifying! There’s plenty of history too and head scratching moments, where you’re thinking just... How!!? It’s stuff like sleeping on the wall in a portaledge for days on end, living on the wall, it slows the pacing down making it feel all the more real and not just something implausible on your TV. The tension of the climb is intense, but as with any good doc, it’s the investment you feel in the people on screen, willing them on. Powerful stuff.