Is this the greatest ski movie of the 21st century?
If not, it’s certainly the greatest trip. One thing's for sure, at a time when ski filmmaking is best compared to the world of pornography – it’s all about the money shot, baby – Valhalla is a rare and wonderfully ambitious attempt to raise the artistic stakes of the genre – by several psychedelic notches.
Originally released in 2013, Valhalla was Sweetgrass’ fourth feature-length film, and whatever your thoughts on combining ski movies with fictionalised narratives (or skiers with acting), there’s no doubt that Nick Waggoner’s crew were at the top of their cinematographic game – this was always going to be an unmissable visual feast.
As for that narrative – let’s face it, it’s a classic. Our protagonist is Conrad (played by Cody Barnhill): a truth-seeker on a northwards quest from Southern Utah to a hippy commune in the Kootenays of B.C, then onwards and upwards to Alaska, to find enlightenment of the steepest and deepest kind.
A soulful and refreshing search for the true meaning of what we do? Or a corny and over-indulgent fantasy? Possibly neither, possibly both. The bottom line is, Valhalla is a magnificently unique ski movie that managed to combine lofty artistic ideals with insane action, breathtaking cinematography and some downright genius/hilarious scenes to boot. Love it or hate it, you need to watch it.