Shout! Factory // 2009 // 98 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // October 23rd, 2010
Celebrating 60 years of filmmaking.
Prolific. That's likely the best way to summarize the career of filmmaker, author, producer, director and sometime narrator Warren Miller. After serving in the Navy, Miller bought his first 8mm movie camera when he was discharged in 1946. He and a friend moved to Sun Valley, Idaho where they spent their time skiing and filming their skiing techniques so they could improve their skills. His name has now become synonymous with skiing and snowboarding films and to date, he has been involved in more than 750 sports films.
Beginning with Deep and Light in 1950, Miller's production company Warren Miller Entertainment has released a ski film every year. Miller also narrated every one of his films until the '90s, when he scaled back his role in the productions due to age and poor health. Released in 2009, and now swooshing its way onto Blu-ray, Warren Miller's Dynasty takes viewers on a tour of some of the most breathtaking landscapes and idyllic skiing locations in the world, from Canada and the U.S. to Norway and China.
I did a lot of skiing back in my junior and senior high days, but I've done very little since. Thinking back though, I distinctly remember that more than a few of my more avid skiing buddies used to drool on an annual basis every time a Warren Miller film came to town and now I see the appeal. Dynasty showcases not only some of the most beautiful snowcapped slopes in the world, but it also features some of the most recognizable names in downhill sports, from veterans like Chris Davenport, Daron Rahlves and Ingrid Backstrom, to up-and-comers like Austin Ross and Chris Benchetler, and even 11-year-old snowboarding wunderkind Lexi Roland. While these names may not be common in your household or mine, their experience, skill and love for all things powdery is immediately apparent, and watching them in action is like poetry in motion. It's also cool to see families from all over the world who have embraced winter for generations, racing each other to the slopes. For naysayers out there who'd be happy to chalk Warren Miller films up as being "just another skiing film," that would be like saying that National Geographic is just a nature magazine; yes, these films are about skiing and are made for fans of the sport, but they are also a celebration of life, human achievement and plain old fun.
The 1.78:1 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is, for the most part, as crisp as the snow it reproduces. While there are some sequences that are less sharp than one would like from an HD presentation, the content is always captivating and I could have sworn I saw my breath while I watched the feature in the comfort of my own home. The DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio mix is more than a match for the video presentation, delivering crisp dialog and effects along with accompanying pop tunes and narration in a well-balanced and enjoyable package.
"Warren Miller's Dynasty: 60 Years in the Making" takes a close look at the history behind Warren Miller's amazing film legacy and the impact it has had on many generations of skiers around the world. Warren Miller Entertainment puts together some of the world's best sport film crews who also happen to be ski enthusiasts themselves, creating a magic combination that has been an annual event for generations of fans of winter sports. While some might argue that this featurette amounts to little more than a glorified 20-minute trailer for the feature itself, I'd argue that it is the perfect companion piece that delivers just enough extra content to make the main film all that much richer.
As a quick aside, I'm not sure how much skiing footage most people could watch in one lifetime, but for winter sport enthusiasts, Dynasty delivers both a solid skiing documentary as well as a reminder that Mr. Miller was there at the beginning and his legacy is still going strong. With the company's 61st film, Wintervention! on its way, there seems to be no signs that Warren Miller Entertainment will be relinquishing their crown as one of the foremost sport film producers of all time.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Warren Miller Entertainment