1. Timeless, Chris Patterson, 2019
No ski film selection worth its salt could omit a work by the company founded by Warren Miller.
A prolific ski and snowboarding filmmaker, Warren directed 38 ski films from 1949 -1987. He produced one feature-length film a year. He continued to narrate films made by his production company Warren Miller Entertainment, until 2004.
Timeless is Warren Miller Entertainment’s 70th film. Jam packed with epic alpine landscapes, hot snow talent, and mountain adventures.
2. Where the Light Shines, Daniel Etter, 2019
A fascinating insight into skiing in Afghanistan. Beautifully conceived by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Daniel Etter. The film follows skier Sajjad Husaini. His mission is to become Afghanistan’s first Winter Olympian at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The film takes its title from Bamyan, a ski resort in the mountains of central Afghanistan. Its name translates as ‘the place of shining light’.
3. Eddie the Eagle, Dexter Fletcher, 2016
If you were around in 1988, you may remember Eddie the Eagle.
The first English ski jumper to compete in the Winter Olympics since 1928, he came last in both his events. But he lost gloriously. The media fell in love with this quirky underdog. A plasterer from Cheltenham, who made up in moxie what he lacked in talent.
In 2016 Dexter Fletcher made this charming biopic. Inspiring and entertaining. A winter treat.
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson, 2014
The story of Gustave, concierge at an alpine resort hotel in a fictional European country. Exploring themes of friendship, war, and fascism there’s a terrific ski chase scene. Shot in stylised fashion using stop motion, four-inch model figures and green screen, it’s a visual delight.
5. Claim, Murray Wais and Steve Winter, 2008
Self-proclaimed ‘best ski movie ever’.
It’s a bold claim. But the film does its best to live up to it. It regularly punctures its own pretensions with humorous banter from its all-star ski talent.
Brash, ballsy and high energy. The scene set to the Final Countdown is genuinely jaw-dropping. Also, worth watching because it’s the last feature film to star legendary skier Shane McConkey before he died in an accident in 2009.
6. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Beeban Kidron, 2004
Gotta have a bit of feel good fluff in the line-up. It was a toss up between this and Dumb and Dumber, both screwball comedies that feature ski holidays.
But you know, Bridget Jones = Colin Firth. So, no contest really.
Bridget heads off on a romantic ski mini break with her new flame Mark Darcy. Romance beckons in an idyllic alpine resort. But Bridget has forgotten to mention that she can’t ski. Predictable but entertaining mayhem ensues.
7. James Bond, various, 1969- 1999
Ah Mr Bond. Don’t you look lovely in a ski suit.
007 hits the slopes in five Bond films.
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service 1969
- The Spy Who Loved Me 1977
- For Your Eyes Only 1981
- A View to a Kill 1985
- The World Is Not Enough 1999
It’s a tough toss up for best ski sequence. There’s the skiing/ snowmobiling / impromptu snowboarding extravaganza in View to a Kill. And the heli-skiing / paragliding / snowmobiling shoot out in The World is Not Enough.
Film trivia factoid of the day. While shooting The World is Not Enough in Chamonix, filming was delayed by an avalanche. The crew helped in the rescue operation.
8. The Leading Edge, Michael Firth,1989
An iconic Kiwi ski film, rumour has it that you must prove you’ve watched The Leading Edge before you can get a job at an NZ ski resort.
Director Michael Firth’s feature film follow-up to his Oscar-nominated ski documentary Off the Edge. Canadian Matt meets a gang of mad Kiwi adrenaline junkies. Death defying hijinks follow. Shot at Ruapehu, Queenstown, Wanaka, Mt Cook and Westland National Parks.
Great action sequences, 80s pop and a cameo by Billy T James as a crazy chopper pilot.
9. Goofy's The Art of Skiing, Walt Disney Productions, 1941
We had to have one snowy cartoon, and it wasn’t going to be Frozen.
There’s fresh powder. There’s yodelling. There’s Goofy. There are skis. Need we say more?
10. The White Ecstasy, Arnold Fanck, 1930
The White Ecstasy is the culmination of the creative collaboration between Leni Riefenstahl and Arnold Fanck, outdoor adventure epic pioneer.
Ski films were having a bit of a moment in 1920s Germany. Leni starred in five mountain films by Fanck, including two silent movies. The White Ecstasy was the most popular. It was so successful that in 1932 Leni obtained financing to direct her first film, The Blue Light.
Here’s where things get murky. A certain Adolf Hitler was very taken by The Blue Light’s folk mysticism. He arranged to meet Leni and invited her to film a documentary of the 1933 Nazi party rally. She accepted, and in so doing, tarnished her creative reputation in the eyes of history.
Despite her dubious associations, Leni was a creative force. The combined forces of her acting and Fanck’s directing make The White Ecstasy more than a curious period piece.