Drop Everything and Watch Apocalypse Snow Right Now
Don your Thunderdome hat for Mad Max on ice—and drugs.
Apocalypse Snow tells the story of, I don’t know. A spy or something, I guess. I don’t speak French, not that there are more than maybe five lines of dialogue. Starring snowboarding pioneer Regis Rolland as a snowboarder, Director Didier Lafond’s 24-minute film from 1983 is a mind-warping excursion down the French Alps, as Rolland is intermittently pursued by a band of… dudes. Possibly evil dudes, in red jumpsuits, using bizarre Rossignol monoskis. Interspersed with long, beautiful sequences of Rolland glissading down the slopes are assorted high- (and very low-) speed chases, both on land and in the air, among which appears what may be the single most dangerous helicopter stunt ever filmed.
Other highlights include:
A Zorb chase!
Bright primary colors!
An exploding igloo!
Chewing gum while flying!
Hot snowblowing action!
A child bride!
Rolland, who’d been introduced to snowboarding the year before, collaborated with ski-obsessed young cinematographer Lafond on the film in part to publicize the swallowtail board Roland had just developed. Lafond, for his part, brought intricate and expensive filming to the table, and Apocalypse Snow is credited with launching snowboarding—before then a primarily Vermonter activity—as a sport in Europe.
Like Mad Max, it’s thin on plot and heavy on guys chasing other guys through any means necessary, as well as far more explosions than you’d expect in the snow. Also like Max, it was followed by two sequels: Apocalypse Snow II: The Challenge and Apocalypse Snow III: The Survivors of the Apocalypse, filmed in the U.S. and Japan. Even more like Mad Max, it was rebooted with 2008’s Apocalypse Snow: The Return, which reunited the original cast in Chamonix for speedriding, snow-parachuting and snow wingsuit flying.
Apocalypse Snow isn’t as far out as it sounds. It is much, much more so. It needs to be watched with many good friends, fondue and all the wine you can get your hands on.