One of the highlights of Nat Geo’s recent Contenders Showcase, a For Your
Consideration Exploration event, was a live orchestral performance of the “Free Solo” score over the last 20 minutes — aka the final climb — of the Oscar-winning documentary. If you couldn’t make it to the event, fear not: You can now watch the entire stirring performance above.
Held on Sunday, June 2 at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, the event occurred a day before the two-year anniversary of Alex Honnold‘s historic achievement chronicled in the film, when he became the first person to scale El Capitan’s enormous wall without a harness or safety gear. Honnold introduced composer Marco Beltrami with co-directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin.
“What you might know about me is I actually love movie soundtracks and listen to movie soundtracks pretty much all the time when I’m flying or climbing,” he told the packed audience. “So for me it’s a huge honor to be here and get to listen to this performance and see the end of the film, which is my favorite part of the film anyway. So thank you, guys. Thanks for sharing this experience with me.”
Chin revealed that he and Vasarhelyi, who’s also his wife, were “instantly captivated” by Beltrami’s gripping composition when they first heard it. “It is a score that has resonated with ‘Free Solo’ audiences everywhere,” he added.
An Oscar nominee for “3:10 to Yuma” (2007) and “The Hurt Locker” and an Emmy nominee for “David and Lisa” (1998), Beltrami is noted for his bracing music in high-tension films. His other credits include “A Quiet Place” (2018), “Scream” (1996) and “Logan” (2017). And there’s certainly nothing more tense than a man climbing a 3,000-foot wall by himself with the constant looming threat of death. “When I first saw ‘Free Solo,’ I immediately felt the tension between the risk and the ultimate freedom of free solo climbing,” Beltrami explained. “Musically, I wanted to represent that duality.”
“Free Solo,” which is Nat Geo’s most-watched film with more than 27 million viewers worldwide, is eligible in the Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking category and could become the second film to win an Oscar and an Emmy after “Citizenfour” (2014). There’s also a new category this year where Beltrami would compete: Best Documentary Music.
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