For my inaugural blog post on ITK, I decided to hijack a recent entry from my personal blog, because its still a film review, but with a difference – call it an Alternate review in a fringe category.
Part documentary, part tribute, part sports film and part ‘love letter to skiing’ – but it warrants a watch even from a neutral observer that has never seen snow in their entire life. Plainly stated, this offering from Sherpas Cinema is a fine film all on its own and a complete feast for the eyes, and most of your other senses too. Up front it’s a record of the unparalleled power, majesty and inimitable call of nature and man’s unrelenting spirit, ever willing to answer the summons.
Yes there is a plot to this film despite it being a real-life sports film with no actors. Its divided into 12 chapters all chronicling various stages within the cycle of being a skier or simply an extreme sports adventurer, though many elements are quite relatable because it tackles issues on a human and even spiritual level. The plot line though is merely to have some kind of central mechanism around which to form the film, so that one doesn’t just have a bunch of random ski experts performing cool tricks and slaloms for over an hour. The true strength of this film however, lies in the truly spectacular cinematography with an innovative cyclic theme running throughout, mastered with technical brilliance.
This film is way more than a ski film, in fact it’s just so happens to ‘also’ be a ski film, because it transcends such conventions by delivering something artful and exhilarating; and in doing so, Sherpas Cinema have provided a window into the skiing world that appeals to anyone. I recommend this film to anyone who likes looking at beautiful things.
As a layman myself – having not skied once in my short life (which I will rectify) – I can say that what immediately appealed to me was the mountains and the climbing (featuring top climbers Renan Ozturk and Conrad Anker – a couple of names I knew, along with photographer Jimmy Chin) and of course the crisp imagery, but soon I found myself lured by the notion of skiing. This of course is one of the goals, to draw more people to the sport, and it does so effortlessly.
Another seemingly effortless achievement is the way they portrayed the link between the simplest of things, like an old spinning rattle toy, and how its likened to time, the turning clock, the spinning earth, the tides of the oceans, and even man – our cycle of living, dying and rebirth, whether spiritual rebirth or that which exists in nature. It does all this without too much though, but simply by connecting a stream of breathtaking images and footage, all amidst the multi-generational journeys undertaken on the slopes of many a snow covered mountain.
Into the Mind is easily a technical achievement as much as it is an exciting and thrilling adventure sports film. For what felt like the first time, you actually feel like one of them as a few of the athletes wore head mounted cameras; waking up in a windswept tent, hiking up a frozen mountain and then waving at death as they skied down – made it all the more personal.
There’s plenty of danger, and the tragic elements form a central focus, but it only serves to add another deeper dimension to this portrait, along with a stellar soundtrack.
It makes for a well timed exploration of a rather exclusive sport, as the world is currently focussed on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi – so that if you didn’t have an appreciation for it before, then you will after watching this film. Everyone, whether on a ski slope or in everyday life, goes on their own journey, but our paths are forever interlinked and entwined, it’s part of what makes us human – the personal connection, and another, perhaps final added dynamic to Into the Mind, is camaraderie between all these people, bound by a vision and similar passions, willing to go to extreme and often dangerous lengths to satisfy them… It’s also why (another Winter Olympic phenomenon) all the athletes tend to get along so well – its more often not so much about the competition, as it is about the ride, or ski, itself.
It’s about men and women, the spirit of freedom and adventure, and the endlessly varied and relentless echo of nature. Enjoy!