A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Living life to the fullest. Living life on one's own terms. Perfecting a craft, skill, or sport not for fame or success, but for the joy in the act.
Positive Role Models
Marc-André Leclerc found joy and purpose in free solo mountain climbing, and chose to devote his life to experiencing the thrills and danger of the activity. As a child, he was diagnosed with ADHD, and had difficulties as a teenager that led to drug abuse, but by devoting his life to free solo mountain climbing, he found an avenue for his energy and personality that was a better experience than drug use. Marc-Andre's mother Michelle encouraged Marc-Andre's individuality instead of forcing him to be "normal."
Mostly centered on White men, aside from Marc-Andre's mother, his girlfriend, an authority on mountain climbing history, and an Argentinian man who runs a hostel in the Patagonia region of Argentina.
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Violence & Scariness
Talk and archival news footage of legendary free solo mountain climbers who fell to their deaths. Near the end of the documentary, it's revealed that Marc-Andre perishes when an avalanche buries him and a fellow climber while they were descending from a mountain in Alaska -- some emotional scenes in which loved ones mourn that he went missing and was presumed deceased.
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"F--k" used a few times. Also: "s--t," "ass," "hell."
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Products & Purchases
Movie is produced by Red Bull Media House. One of the interview subjects wears a ballcap with the Red Bull logo.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Marc-André talks about taking LSD as a teenager. A joint is passed around, and the narrator partakes. Cigarette smoking. Beer drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Alpinist is a 2021 documentary about an enigmatic free solo mountain climber who takes on daring climbs while avoiding public acclaim. There's some marijuana smoking -- a joint is passed around, and the interviewer partakes. Marc-André Leclerc, the subject of the documentary, talks about his LSD intake as a teenager before devoting his life fully to free solo mountain climbing. Cigarette smoking. Beer drinking. Occasional profanity, including "f--k." One of the interview subjects is shown wearing a Red Bull ballcap, and the movie is produced by Red Bull Media House. Leclerc, a free-spirited young man who was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, finds through free solo mountain climbing both a purpose and an outlet for his energy and unique spirit, and his mother talks of how she encouraged Marc-André to pursue his passions, even if what he loved was outside societal norms and expectations. Talk and archival news footage of legendary free solo mountain climbers who fell to their deaths. Near the end of the documentary, it's revealed that Marc-Andre perishes when an avalanche buries him and a fellow climber while they were descending from a mountain in Alaska -- some emotional scenes in which loved ones mourn that he went missing and was presumed deceased. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is an unforgettable documentary about a free-spirited nonconformist who lived his life to its fullest while engaged in the extreme dangers of free solo mountain climbing. The Alpinist may have been intended to be a documentary on the search and profile of Marc-André Leclerc, an enigmatic climber who was taking on and conquering incredible climbs while, unlike so many in extreme sports and life in general, not turning these climbs into an exercise in branding or a springboard to celebrity. While it's certainly that, with plenty of the expected eye candy of the views from the top of rarely, if ever, scaled mountains, what ultimately emerges is a fundamental and existential exploration of what it means to be alive, and the benefits and problems that come with living life on your own terms, especially when that life is constantly at risk in the name of pursuing one's bliss.
In a society of self-promoters and celebrity seekers in all fields, it's refreshing to see someone like Leclerc pursue his sport for reasons rooted more in the spiritual rather than scaling this or that mountain face in order to "expand the brand." There is, however, a tragedy in this story of obsessive pursuit at the expense of everything and everyone else, and it's a tragedy that isn't fully explored in this documentary. There's a kind of romanticism of the way in which Leclerc chose to live his life, and, by extension, the traditionally renegade lifestyles of those who free solo mountain climb, but the ending comes across as something that the filmmakers were unable to confront at the time due to being too close to the subject of their documentary, or hadn't had the time to fully process everything that happened. It's perfectly understandable, and there are obviously no easy answers, and it's precisely these questions of life and death and finding true happiness in life while constantly facing death that are just as likely to linger as the visual images of Leclerc scaling icy-snowy-rocky cliff walls.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.