“Here, There and Everywhere,” the 67th installment of Warren Miller Entertainment’s annual ski series, opened last Wednesday night to a packed and buzzing theater at the Avon Cinema. The reason for the atmosphere was twofold — the $20 movie ticket included complimentary ski vouchers and guaranteed entry into a raffle for trips and equipment held during the screening’s intermission. But while the moviegoers arrived for a winter of free skiing, they left having been treated to an enchanting visual experience.
Warren Miller — for whom the entertainment company is named — embodied the romantic ideal of the ski bum, living in resort parking lots and bouncing from mountain to mountain in an attempt to revel in the freedom of an endless winter. Miller began documenting his lifestyle in the late 1940s with an 8mm Bell and Howell movie camera and three rolls of film. He directed his first skiing movie, “Deep and Light,” in 1950 after spending a winter in Squaw Valley. Though the now-92-year-old Miller gave up his camera in 2004, Warren Miller Entertainment has produced an annual skiing documentary for 67 straight years.
“Here, There and Everywhere” operates on a grander scale than “Deep and Light” but without losing sight of Miller’s vision, capturing both the enormity of the sport’s natural settings and the intimacy of its community. Director Chris Patterson follows a pair or trio of local athletes at 10 skiing hotspots spanning from Switzerland to the Rocky Mountains, and each mini-documentary contributes a uniquely charming vignette to the film’s larger portrait. Tracing each of the athletes’ stories individually allows the audience to better experience the distinct cultures and natural wonders of shooting sites.
Each location offers its own moments of brilliance, but the film strikes gold in its sketch of the Southern Chugach Range in Cordova, Alaska. Patterson recognizes the overwhelming expanse and remoteness of the terrain, and his profile adopts a sanctified air as it follows extreme skiers Ryland Bell and Morgan Hebert.
The film’s Cordova profile reignites the imaginative possibilities of a world with unexplored corners. The Alaskan peaks are so inaccessible that Bell and Hebert require a helicopter’s assistance to tap the uncharted terrain. As the pair stands at the top of a peak, they and the audience are confronted with the sheer vastness of the untouched world around them.
Patterson’s camera in this segment isn’t doing anything revolutionary — it’s simply doing more thoughtful work than that of his counterparts. As Bell and Hebert descend the mountain, bursting out of their own powder clouds, Patterson’s camera makes the skiers feel like a necessary element of the environment. Subtle shots frame their diminutive figures against the immensity of the sky and the barren mountain ranges that form the backdrop of the scene. Patterson’s ultimate genius is reflected in wider aerial shots, capturing the poetic ballet of the skiers’ movements.
“Here, There and Everywhere” films its final location in Greenland’s mountain ranges. The film’s last subjects, Seth Wescott and Rob Kingwill, probe the frontiers of human existence, skiing glacial peaks that end at the Arctic Ocean’s edge. While filming the skiers, Patterson’s camera captures the serene quality of the mountain’s and sea’s emptiness, lending tranquility to the heart-pounding athleticism. Like the Alaskan scenes, the Greenland vignette reminds audiences that even when sitting in a theater on Thayer Street, there is still a natural oasis capable of dazzling the imagination.