Wow. Where do I even begin. I guess I can start by saying this is NOT your average ski movie. In fact, I don’t even know if we can even consider this a ski movie. Although Sherpas Cinema are known for their unorthodox style of ski movie production, “Into the Mind” sets a whole new precedent as a downright bone-chillingly awesome yet seriously weird and off-putting ski flick. 2 years ago the Sherpas released what can possibly be considered the greatest ski flick of all-time. The fantastic cinematography coupled with some of the best and most innovative skiing ever premiered captured the minds of ski porn fans everywhere. Still buzzing off their release of “All.I.Can” 2 years ago, it seems the Sherpas have strayed away from their roots of being a serious force to reckon with in the ski production world and more toward a direction that should see their flicks being aired on the Discovery Channel or even Animal Planet. Sherpas Cinema’s 2013 release “Into the Mind” was truly 30% skiing, 30% nature shots, 30% plot, and 10% an old Nepalese Sherpa spinning around a cylinder with what looks like an anal bead attached to it.
I’m not going to go into too much detail about the whole “Plot” thing the Sherpas try to achieve with this movie because it’s just boring and unnecessary. That being said though, the whole movie follows one unknown skier and is basically supposed to be a compilation of skiing memories viewed from his mind while he’s passed out in the hospital after being reckless on a gnarly spine in not-so ideal conditions. Every now and then we see POV views that look as if we see them literally from the dudes eyes with a little blurring for dramatic effect. If this all sounds confusing, just forget about, it’s an interesting but unnecessary play on the mind of a skier, hence the title.
The film starts off with a bunch of nature shots, an intro to all the athletes in the movie and then a long-ass shot of an old Nepalese Sherpa swinging around a doo-dad on a stick with a slightly constipated look on his face. But don’t worry this isn’t the last you see of him, between just about every segment, the scene returns to this guy (with close-ups on his yellow crusty eyes included for “depth”) swinging his little relic. Oh and did I forget to mention it takes 11 and half fucking minutes for this “Ski movie” to actually show a segment of, oh I don’t know, skiing.
When the skiing does start though, it’s pretty unreal. The editing/filming is Immaculate as they manage to get a shot of Ingrid Backstrom skiing alongside (and almost skiing over) a beautiful bald eagle as it majestically takes flight above the pillow-popping shredders. The pow-shredding is relatively average but entertaining non the less.
Then after some more unnecessary plot distractions comes a seriously thrilling segment. Shot at Bella Coola heliskiing accompanied by flawless editing and a border line insane song, the athletes shred massive spines and charge some seriously huge Big Mountain lines. This segment instantly gave me chills down my spine, the first of any ski movie I’ve seen this year.
More plot follows, but quickly there after we reach the Whistler segment. More so about the daily life of Whistler with scenes of average Joe’s charging, this once-again extremely well edited and creative segment is very entertaining. The 120 foot frontflip of Julian Car at Air Jordan is shot from 3 different angles, each time leaving your jaw to drop even lower than the previous. A great 2 consecutive segments. With another greeting of Mr. Old-Guy-Sherpa swinging his asian adaptation of Ball-in-a-cup, we reach a segment worth noting.
The Benji Farrow segment. There is no humanly way possible to describe this segment without a constant reply of “WTF” raining down on the narrator. Basically it starts off with Benji eyeing down a half-pipe. One thing leads to another and all of a sudden theres 50 other Benji’s in the half pipe, throwin slick tricks and huge airs while the real original Benji starts crying and hitting himself in the head because he thinks he’s not good enough.*** Pause for dramatic effect *** Told you so.
This segment proves to be extremely corny and the use of digital green-screening and special effects as well as hollywood epic-style music in the background just make this segment one HUGE swing and a miss. This (along with the bead-bearing Sherpa) was the most off-putting aspect of “Into the Mind“.
We then turn to what was supposed to be the sequel to JP Auclairs unforgettable urban segment from “All.I.Can”. This segment does prove to be highly entertaining (although nowhere near the original) as JP teams up with Tom Wallisch in what feels like (thanks to the spotlights and un-relentless music) a high speed car chase, but the special effects added, do dampen it a tad. Well edited as usual, and very entertaining. The only complaint I have about the editing in the entire movie is the over-usage of the world-flip mechanism they use. Although it’s extremely cool at first, the Sherpas use it a bit too much and it can make you feel a little bit nauseas after a while.
We then arrive at quite a long stretch of a bit of plot, nature scenes, and a hint of absolutely mind-blowing cinematography. Your going to have see these to believe it. (Hint: They transform landscape shots into the spherical birds eye view of the earth, If that makes any sense). A forgettable segment with Kye Peterson in Bolivia follows.
Then comes what I quite possibly could call my favourite cinematographically perfect segment of all-time. For real. Without going into too much chronological detail of this segment (because its all over the place), it simply integrates the similarities of water and snow in a way never seen or imagined before. It mainly follows DCP as he surfs big waves and shreds the deepest powder of the entire flick. Every curling wave transitions into a powder face shot and then back into the crashing wave. This is something you simply MUST see for yourself. Despite this flick’s apparent shortcoming’s I URGE you to watch or buy this movie specifically for this segment and the irremovable smile you will have after watching it. Cut-ins of magnificent time-lapses and nature to skiing comparisons all to one of the chillest tunes you can imagine truly create a one of kind, undeniably unforgettable segment.
A summary of the rest of the movie (seeing as there is nothing too special about it) seems to follow a few average-good segments from Denali national park, a cool blend of shots where the camera integrates the summer view of a run with the winter one with a dude shredding overtop of what appears to be rocks and grass (as seen in “All.I.Can” originally), a few boring parts and what do you know; it ends of with guess who!? Mr. “I’m just waving around my anal beads one more time, relax”.
All in all, “Into the Mind” is a very entertaining, perfectly edited, and indescribably cinematographically rich ski film. In spite of a complete swing and miss with the plot, special effects, seriously weird segments, old guys, and overall deep philosophical message, you can’t deny that this is a fantastic ski movie. Although I wouldn’t personally consider it too much of “Ski Movie” seeing as only about 30% of the films time is actually dedicated to skiing, it still manages to play on those ever teasing qualities that we skiers and boarders find so damn unreal and entertaining. Since this year’s Sherpas Cinema’s release was nowhere near as good as “All.I.Can”, all we can do is look to the future and hope they find their way back to their original roots of producing the best SKI movies in the world and not films that attempt to branch out towards hollywood and nature channels. That’s all for now guys, cheers.
Skiing Skill/Overall Talent: 8.5
There really wasn’t anything truly mind-blowing besides Julian’s 120 footer, a few big cliff hucks and snap shots of park and urban.
Entertainment Value: 9.5
Whether it be unimaginable time-lapse/nature shots, unreal cinematography or fast paced skiing, editorial delivery or even seriously WTF moments, “Into the Mind” is beyond entertaining.
Basically the Sherpas strayed away from conventional usage of catchy or well-placed songs and tried to go all “Epic Hollywood” on us. It’s okay if you’re leading a charge of Gondorian warriors against a ruthless and outnumbering army of Orcs, but doesn’t really fit the bill at all for a ski movie. Even the non-wannabe-hollywood tunes weren’t the best, but some delivered quite well.
Just about as good as it gets. Nothing else I can say.
Editing and cinematography wise, this was a breakthrough film. Skiing-wise, the JP Auclair segment was a “sequel” so AKA it wasn’t as original as it may seem. Huge points for Innovation though.
Cinematography (Bonus): 10
The Sherpas pioneered it, and they perfected it, simply as that.
Great skill, non-stop entertainment, a subpar soundtrack, perfect editing, great innovation and superb cinematography put Sherpas Cinema’s 2013 release “Into the Mind” into a category that mixes aspects of the best in the world, with elements that will hopefully revert back to the original in coming years.
– Chris De Jager