Sweetgrass's Valhalla: A Place to Call Home
Perhaps it is bizarre to even review ski movies. Rarely are viewers seeking out ski movie reviews to make sure the film will have enough big mountain, enough street segments, or enough hits by People Under the Stairs. None of that matters ... until now.
With the onset of millennial movie-making comes this need to search for a greater significance in this post-9/11, post-Columbine world the Millennials grew up in. As Powder Magazine's John Stifter puts it: Can a ski movie format answer the search for meaning...the search for childlike harmony in this modern, ever-connected world we live in? Can Valhalla director Nick Waggoner make a ski movie with a drama screenplay format? In this case, that's not really for me to decide. I found Waggoner's Valhalla a refreshing, albeit explorative, take on the ski movie. With skinny, unshaven hippies at its narrative core and skiing, riding and discovering nature at its heart, Valhalla was entertaining and fun. This is not the average ski movie, but it provided covetous lines slowed down to a speed of pure emotion.
The mountains have beckoned us all over the years for various reasons and in various directions. Valhalla explores one of those reasons and a few of those directions by showing a narrative of a man who may tap into the occasional "experimental" realm of self-exploration, but above all he taps into skiing, snow and nature to find that deeper meaning in life.
I'm not going to lie and say this ski film is for everyone. If I were to see one ski film this year it might not even be this one, but Valhalla is beautiful in its experimental journey toward finding something unknown amongst the known. I ski dozens of days a year, but do I take away something new each day? Perhaps I should.
My takeaway from Valhalla: I may know how to ski, but do I really know myself when I am skiing? And is it possible to ever really know the mountain, especially Lone Mountain and her brethren Andesite, Flat Iron and Spirit, even though I call it my home?
The place I call home.