In anticipation of the ski season, Fall colder temps and colours, the ski movie and ski shows have marked the approaching season for about 80 years. In honour of this tradition, I’m adding the latest section in Ski Mad World. This isn’t a complete movie section, but these are what is included in my World and includes a few samples of many of the landmark North America currents in the history of the ski movie. The list of 66 titles is poor on Warren Miller or other recent films, but pretty much everyone knows about Warren Miller stamp on ski movies. But Warren Miller didn’t start movies when he was a toddler, a few started that yearly tradition before him, names like Dr Arnold Fanck, Otto Lang, John Jay and Dick Barrymore.
The 70s saw the popularization of Warren Miller movies in North America while Europe had the phenomena of the “ski extreme” films where skiers would ski impossible lines. I remember the huge ski shows at Place Bonaventure in Montreal, but also the presentation of the Warren Miller movies that would take place during these shows. If I was lucky enough, I would sometimes catch one of those French ski documentaries on TV or maybe the man that skied Everest. Everything was focus on one week.
With the arrival of VHS arrived a new beginning starting with Greg Stump, but soon to be followed by Teton Gravity Research, Matchstick and an explosion of others. The huge ski shows are a thing of the past and Warren Miller is no longer associated with WME, the company that makes his movies carrying his name.
I gave my text version of a quick crash course on the history of the ski film, here is Glen Plake’s video version. Part of the extras from the Edge for Never.
As mentioned at the start of this post, the Movies section of Ski Mad World contains a cross section of ski movies type. While being short of Warren and the recent stuff, there are a number of movies from the Pioneers like Dr. Arnold Fanck, Otto Lang, John Jay and Drew Barrymore as well as some Eastern locals. Lang’s Ski Flight is a beautiful film while Fanck’s Der Weisse Rausch (White Ecstasy) is probably one of my favorites from this entire list with the Stump classic Blizzard of Aahhs.
The List also includes a number of great documentaries on different aspect of skiing and other ski related shows and tibits. A favorite in this category would be without a doubt, Moulton’s Legends of American Skiing which looks at the pioneers from the skiing first days in North America. The movie Steep about extreme skiing is also great. Love the Dream Never Died which is a behind the scene look of the World Cup Downhill season of the Ken Read and the Crazy Canucks. I remember seeing this back at Place Bonaventure at the Montreal Ski Show and when I saw it was playing on TV and I made sure I recorded it with the Beta player. There is also the 10 show TV series in French called “La grande aventure du ski” (I remember seeing an English version part of it on RSN at the Motel 6 at Mammoth back in 2005).
Besides one episode of “La grande aventure du ski”, I don’t think there is a documentary on the History of the Ski Films, until Greg Stump gets his latest production out, where he takes a closer look to the history of the ski movie. I wasn’t interested seeing the latest Warren Miller Entertainment’s latest (although I would have love to see Andrew McLean piece on skiing Antarctica), but really looking in catching Legend of Aahhs.
Here is part one of the Greg Stump’s Legend of Aahhs trailer, setting it up.
And the heart of the matter. Not sure if Stump did it in purpose, but that first song is from the 80s German group Propaganda and he’s talking about Leni Riefenstahl. Riefenstahl made films that we used for propaganda while Fanck got on the wrong side of the Nazi government as he didn’t want to join the party.
Here is a quote from Wikipedia.
Her most famous film was Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will), a propaganda film made at the 1934 Nuremberg congress of the Nazi Party.
Anyway I loved that group and Stump has used their music in his films before, but I thought it was a funny coincidence that you would see Riefenstahl and hear that music.