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  Man Who Skied Down Everest, The 'Snow Good
Year: 1975
Director: Bruce Nyznik
Stars: Yuichiro Miura, Douglas Rain, various
Genre: DocumentaryBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Yuichiro Miura had already performed an impressive feat of skiing down Mount Fuji in his native Japan, or so he claimed, so decided the only activity that could better that would be to go for the highest mountain on Planet Earth: he would ski down Mount Everest in the Himalayas. This would not be an easy task to achieve, not least because it would be extremely dangerous, but he was confident he could succeed so left his young family behind - he was thirty-seven years old at the time of the attempt - and travelled to his destination at the base of the peak. With a team of around eight hundred people at the beginning of the excursion, he definitely meant business, but could he prove his worth and make that goal?

If you do not wish to know if Mr Miura made it and lived his dream as laid out in this documentary's title, then you'd probably be best not to read any reviews, for you cannot discuss this film without reference to the last ten minutes where his daredevil stunt was shown. This was actually edited together from footage his team took for the American market, and certainly impressed the Academy Awards for the jury gave it a Best Documentary Feature Oscar, suggesting they were enraptured more by the pretentious, self-aggrandising style employed here than anything in the actual depiction of what happened. Director Bruce Nyznik went as far as he could in giving this the big build up, to the extent that eventually you're anticipating something really special.

Therefore not only do we see majestic footage of the stunning scenery around Everest, but to add extra importance he got Douglas Rain to intone the narration: that's right, the guy who did the voice of HAL 9000 in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Nyznik was evidently hoping the effect of watching this would be akin to the awesome scope of that film, though in truth Rain was not putting on his computer voice therefore did not sound very much like his most celebrated (screen) role. Nevertheless, he was a professional and his tones did add a layer of the epic to what we were seeing: but what were we seeing? A lot of walking up a mountain, for the most part, which no matter how beautiful that mountain was, did grow monotonous after a short while, with only a few breaks from that sort of action.

We did see Miura do a bit of practice skiing, now ten a penny in any extreme winter sports video you cared to name, but probably notable back in the seventies, and there was some amusement in seeing the Sherpas watching television part of the way up the mountain (apparently an episode of Bonanza, or that's what we hear the theme tune of, anyway). But tragedy strikes, when a large shelf of ice collapses and kills six of them, and it is this which leaves a very sour taste about the whole enterprise, for knowing people have died in this man's vanity project, effectively, his pursuit of glory makes it very difficult to appreciate. What makes it even more difficult is when he finally sets off down the slope, because he doesn't ski down Everest at all, he skis about a thousand feet with a parachute to slow him, then since that throws him off balance he ends up sliding another thousand feet on his arse in a deeply undignified display. It's such a monumental fuck-up that you're tempted to laugh at him making such a fool of himself - but six people died so he could, therefore not so funny, then. Music by Larry Crosley and Nexus.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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