Mon, Aug 01, 2022
The Man Who Skied Down Everest is a 1975 film about a Japanese daredevil’s attempt to ski down Mount Everest’s highest pitch. The film won an Oscar for best documentary that year and is a high water mark both for Canadian film and for the once-illustrious, Ottawa-based, independent production company, Crawley Films.
Founded by husband-and-wife team F.R. (Budge) and Judith Crawley in 1939, the company produced a plethora of industrial and training films, as well as a number of well-regarded features, including the now-classic Canadian animation short, The Loon’s Necklace (1949), The Luck of Ginger Coffey (1964), starring a young Robert Shaw, and the 1972 comedy, The Rowdyman, with Gordon Pinsent. The company was active for 50 years until its sale to fellow Ottawa-based animation studio Atkinson Film-Arts in 1982.
The Man Who Skied Down Everest recounts the 1970 Japanese ski expedition to Everest’s south face and the brief two-minute parachute-assisted ski descent by daredevil skier and alpinist Yūichirō Miura. The film is beautifully shot and well preserved, and its screenplay, written by Judith Crawley, features excerpts from Miura’s diary read by Winnipeg-born actor Douglas Rain. (The latter notable as the voice of Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey.) The film leaves a strong impression with its stunning cinematography, modernist soundtrack and poetic atmosphere. It was no doubt a major influence on later mountaineering blockbusters such as Touching the Void.
The film is available to stream on Kanopy with your library card.