Warren Miller’s “Off the Grid” takes viewers on wild ride

By Carol Dwyer
September 28, 2011

The skiing community, beginner to extreme, can appreciate Warren Miller’s “Off the Grid.”  However, this 2006 documentary has elements which can draw in audiences beyond that of the popular winter sport.

Filmed in Alaska and many other well-known and lesser-known skiing hot-spots, the views captured are amazing.  Picture high, snow-covered, rugged mountains going out to the horizon from the vantage point of a skier at a peak.  Even if you’re not one to love all that snow, such scenery is breathtaking nonetheless.  They are the kind of vistas that most of us don’t get to see other than in books, movies, TV shows and online.

The videography itself, following extreme skiing enthusiasts from scaling mountaintops to steep descents, take viewers along for the ride.  Slabs of snow chase these skiers at their heels as they race down a treacherous mountainside.  Helmet-cams give a rare glimpse of their wild ride, while slow-motion shots add to the drama of skiing maneuvers over rugged terrain.

It’s easy to watch their adventurous pursuits and think, “How do they get the nerve to do that?”  At the same time, it’s an out-of-ordinary lifestyle that can make any viewer picture his or her own idea of a not-so-mainstream life.

That doesn’t have to mean adventure through an extreme sport to fulfill that idea of living life outside the day-to-day grind.  Differing for everyone, the general idea is one of the ways that this documentary can interest the non-skiing person.  It’s the inspiration element of Miller’s footage showcasing those who go all out in pursuits of what they love to do.

Of course, the documentary as an informational work, is another aspect that can gain audiences from beyond the skiing world.  It’s comparable to the educational type of reality shows such as “Deadliest Catch;” beforehand, the world didn’t know what life was like for those involved in either case.  Through the Discovery Channel, the world has been introduced to such different ways of life; Miller, with “Off the Grid,” introduced the world to the life of extreme skiers and their dramatic playground.

The skiers featured throughout “Off the Grid,” some of which are amputees, are not just hobbyists on an extreme level; they include Olympic and X-Games medalists.

It is definitely worth watching it on TV next time it airs, or picking up a copy of Miller’s extreme ski documentary on DVD. For more information on Miller and his documentaries, check out Skinet.

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Carol Dwyer

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