What makes someone risk their life in pursuit of freedom? What exactly is a "free life"? These questions clearly interest director Toa Fraser, who acts as interviewer and narrator in this intimate documentary about the psychology of extreme sports. Z
At first, it's not clear who's narrating this story about New Zealand Olympic freestyle skier Jossi Wells and his search for the next challenge to conquer. But by the time Fraser appears briefly on screen at the end of the film he's lured us into his meditation on living life on the edge, and has us asking the same questions.
This film's not about Fraser though, it's about what happens when body-fatigued Wells meets members of The Flying Frenchies, a group of highlining, wingsuit diving and base jumping artists who give everything 100 per cent in life, continually pushing themselves in pursuit of freedom and the idea of being at one with their fear.
Wells joins the troupe in the stunning Chamonix mountains in France, where he initially attempts to walk a slackline a metre off the ground, then moving higher to learn how to climb back on to the line from his safety harness. It's all in preparation for a highline attempt between two dizzying peaks days later.
Throughout this process, Fraser reveals Wells' background, and the roots of The Flying Frenchie troupe, with footage of their progression of aerial stunts at altitude over the years - many of which have you holding your breath or looking away.
Much like the about-to-be-released Mountain, another art house ode to the allure of the mountains and extreme sports, The Free Man is beautiful, with stunning cinematography from Gavin Stroud and an emotive score from Sean Donnelly (aka SJD).
The crafting of the film, Wells' honesty and the exploration of the relationship between freedom and fear captures the poetry of highlining. It's terrifying and compelling; a contemplative and visually stunning extreme sports experience.
PG Coarse language
Visually stunning extreme sports doco with a philosophical bent.
DID YOU KNOW...
Released 27 years after the original IT television series, the first trailer for the new IT film set a new record when it was viewed 197 million times in the first 24 hours.
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