Josh Berman’s trusty crew traverses the globe in Small World, hitting Japan, Finland, Whistler, Alaska and a host of ski spots in between. There are heli-shots, drone shots, helmet cam shots and steadicam shots. There is urban, big mountain, rails, pillows, cement embankments, drops off buildings and kickers in the terrain park. The editing is crazy. And what is it that I’m taking away at the end from Small World?
The crashes. Bone splintering hits onto steel that make me grab my crotch in faux-pain and roll around on the floor in between my sofa and the big-screen. Body slams onto cement that take MY breath away; forget about the guy who just had the wind knocked out of him. It’s not a huge chunk of the movie but there’s still a freakin’ ton of them and they bloody well hurt just watching them. Watch Noah Albaladejo in Finland or Mitchell Brower in the Boston sequence. Ouch! Fuck! Of course, Berman cannily sets them up with repeated fails making the eventual stomp a real ABC Wide World of Sports “Thrill of Victory, Agony of Defeat”-type moment.
I can’t explain why this is what’s still in my head after the movie is done. Others might get freaked out at Tatum Monod getting out of a helicopter on top of a pointy peak of snow up high in Haines. And it’s straight down. But that’s not a physical jolt, that’s more like a mind-fuck where that vertigo jolts your brain. What gets me are those hits that physically hurt. You’re simply watching and it hurts literally. And don’t misunderstand me, I totally dig hardcore urban skiing. The Stept Films are so hardcore, they’re practically Fight Club in their ferocity. I love that shit. It’s when the guys rag-doll on impact in fast, successive edits, you feel the pain. Anyway…
Surprise moments? Hell yeah: Eric Hjorleifson at Sentry Lodge, BC skiing avalanche-prone pillows with Wiley Miller and Kye Petersen. Hjorleifson is not a Level 1 regular and seeing as he’s one of the most skilled big mountain skiers out there, it’s a special blast to get his GoPro helmet cam shots in descents that are straight elevator shafts. If I feel like I’m losing my stomach then I know I got my money’s worth in buying the movie.
Level 1 always produces the goods each year. If you’ve seen a hundred ski movies already, you’ll still get a charge watching Small World. If you’re new to the ski movie game, this is how it’s done. By Mark “The Attorney General” Quail