If you’re a fan of snow sports, you’ve probably heard of Warren Miller. The legendary filmmaker died on January 24 in Orcas Island, Washington at the age of 93, The Seattle Times reports. His film career spanned over 60 years and 500 films, and he was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1978 and the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in 1995.
For skiers and snowboarders, the off-season months can be torture. Miller’s films helped quell the powder withdrawal, as he provided a vivid cinematic experience of life on the slopes. Miller narrated the films himself, which showed sweeping views as well as the day-to-day experiences of snow life. Miller injected his own brand of humor into the films, letting experienced and amateur viewers alike in on the inside jokes.
Miller’s first film, the Deep and Light, was made for just $500, according to Ski the World. It was completed in 1949 and Miller profited a whole $8 from it.
Miller’s films evolved to pack more action, foreshadowing the rise of extreme sports. His athletes hit the biggest air, jumped out of helicopters, and pushed the limits of snow sports. Though there was worry about safety, Miller recruited some big names, including Otto Lang, Hannes Schneider, Stein Eriksen, Jimmie Heuga, Billy Kidd, and Jean-Claude Killy.
“Man’s search for freedom is embedded in our genes.”
In 1989, Miller’s son Kurt and a business partner acquired the rights to Warren Miller Entertainment. By the early 2000s, Miller himself became less involved with the company, but he did public showings of his films, and his last appearance was at a series of lectures in 2010.
Miller’s pursuits beyond the snow included surfing and sailing, according to his official bio. He also wrote 1,200 columns and 11 books.
“I really believe in my heart that that first turn you make on a pair of skis is your first taste of total freedom, the first time in your life that you could go anywhere that your adrenaline would let you go,” Miller said in a 2010 interview with The Seattle Times. “And I show that in my films. I didn’t preach it. But once you experience that freedom — I’d personally narrate that show over 100 times a year — and I came to the conclusion that man’s search for freedom is embedded in our genes. That’s what everybody wants.”
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