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First Descent (Widescreen Edition)

4.3 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Follow five snowboarding icons (Shaun White, Hannah Teter, Terje Haakonsen, Shawn Farmer and Nick Perata) on this epic Alaskan journey as they ride the most challenging and dangerous mountains on the planet. Featuring some of the most jaw-dropping snowboard footage ever caught on film, this incredible motion picture tracks the rebellious, inspiring and sometimes controversial evolution of snowboarding from an underground American movement to a full-fledged global phenomenon.

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Talk about good timing (and shrewd marketing): the release of First Descent, a thrilling documentary about the snowboarding phenomenon, exactly coincided with the 2006 Winter Olympics, where some of the very same athletes featured in the film mined gold and glory on the slopes near Turin, Italy. But while Shaun White and Hannah Teeter both won gold medals in the halfpipe as the U.S. dominated the Olympic competition, those two young stars (along with three other snowboarding "legends") are seen in a far different environment in producer-directors Kevin Harrison and Kemp Curley's 111-minute film, tackling some dauntingly long, steep runs in the mountains of Valdez, Alaska, where avalanches, crevasses, and other hazards await as they search for "first descents" (i.e., places no snowboarder has been before) in that pristine, forbidding environment. As advertised, the footage is, well, awesome, as all five riders catch huge air on some of the gnarliest runs in the world; Norwegian Terje Haakonsen's final plunge from a 7,000 foot peak with a 60 degree drop must be seen to be believed. Elsewhere, First Descent chronicles the evolution of the snowboarding phenomenon, from its humble emergence in the 1970s, when the sport was derided by traditional skiers, to its extraordinary popularity in the '90s and beyond, when the X Games and Olympics telecasts brought it into living rooms across America, Europe, and Japan. Profiles of the individual athletes are included as well, but it's the Alaska footage--where, in the words of 'boarder Shawn Farmer, they "pinned it to the wall and threw down"--that's the principal attraction here. Nearly an hour's worth of extra features will add to the appeal of the film, which features narration by former Black Flag-bearer Henry Rollins and music by Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh. --Sam Graham

Special Features

  • AK and Beyond
  • Top of the World: Wescam Featurette
  • A Thousand Words
  • Big-Mountain Riding
  • Extended Snowboarding Action
  • Deleted Scenes

  • Product Details

    • Directors: Kemp Curly, Kevin Harrison
    • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
    • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated:
      PG-13
      Parents Strongly Cautioned
    • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
    • DVD Release Date: February 21, 2006
    • Run Time: 111 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B000E0WJKK
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,522 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "First Descent (Widescreen Edition)" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    Format: DVD
    In terms of story and content, this is probably the strongest film ever made about snowboarding. Gorgeous photography and a really solid storyboard made this film a real motion picture rather than a collection of montages like you see so many other boarding films. Unfortunately this film lacks the real jaw-dropping moments you really need in a film of this caliber. This film has one or two, but needs more to really sustain the interest level. Terje Haakonsen was spectacular as always, though, and any film blessed with his participation is almost always sublime.

    On a side note, I was a little disappointed in Shaun White's performance in this film. It seemed as though his heart was not really in the big back-country experience and that he would have rather stayed at home in the park. As a big fan of his riding, I was hoping to see more of his awesome freestyle ability translate to the open terrain. I was surprised to see him board with his freestyle binding setup (wide centered stance) rather than something more conducive to powder riding. I think the film crew noticed the lack on enthusiasm and actually showed him the least of all the five riders in the actual boarding scenes (they showed plenty of his interviews).

    Overall though, I'd strongly recommend this film to any snowboarder who is truly interested in the sport.
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    Format: DVD
    This is a great documentary and thrilling movie. Being able to see two Olympic gold medalists and snowboarding pioneers at the same time is a treat. The cast is a diverse group that has one thing in common, the love of snowboarding. It is a must see for winter sports fans of all ages.
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    Format: DVD
    After "Dogtown and Z-Boys" and "Riding Giants" -- documentaries that cover the similar sports / culture territory, "First Descent" arrived at the theatre. As you know, the film is about snowboarding which is getting more and more popular, and as it title suggests, "First Descent" includes the exciting footages about six riders snowboarding in the mountains of Alaska -- Shawn Farmer, Terje Haakonsen, Nick Perata, Travis Rice, Hannah Teter and Shaun White.

    The film's topic is interesting even if you're not a snowboarder or a fan of these six athletes interviewed here, but I feel someone else could have made a better film with the same material.

    The feature film runs almost 110 minutes and spends its time mostly on two topics: history of snowboarding as sports, and the six athletes' rides in Alaskan mountains. Some part of the former section is fresh and informative; I didn't know snowboarding is so popular in Japan where you can see the riders jumping in packed stadium of Tokyo Dome. The excitement of the place is like the Rolling Stones concert, proving the riders' popularity.

    But the film gives me an impression that the treatment is a bit cursory. You hear words like `big' or `huge' many times, but we are not allowed to know how big or huge the snowboarding business has become. We are told that snowboarding progressed with time, but seldom is the film incisive as to how. I am not saying the film should be erudite as textbook; I am only saying that we need more original approach to it, something humorous or human that made "Dowgtown and the Z-Boys" a joyful watch.

    The same can be said about the section that follows the six riders in Alaska. They are all likable persons, quite frank about themselves and their snowboard riding is amazing.
    Read more ›
    Comment 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    Take my words with a grain of salt as I have no snowboarding experience what-so-ever, but think it looks cool on television. First Decent shows some pretty intense action shot up in the Alaskan back country featuring future Olympic gold medalists Shawn White and Hannah Teter along with snowboarding veterans Shawn Farmer, Nick Perata, and Terje Haakonsen. It's a decent documentary mixed with the snowboarding footage that provides a solid introduction to the world of snowboarding, but there wasn't a lot of depth I felt for someone like me who doesn't have a deep snowboard background, I would've loved to have heard more about how the sport has grown. The presentation hinted on these things much like other reviewers have indicated, increased money, television exposure, more difficult tricks, etc. but lacked the depth I would've wanted. Also the mix of action and documentary kind of took away from the actual documentary portion because they'd go 20-25 minutes of snowboard stuff and then a chuck of documentary. Liked it, but could've been executed better.
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    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    This is a great documentary about backcountry (particularly shaun white and his early backcountry experience). If you liked art of flight, you will most likely enjoy this film....it's just different. less action shots and more behind the scenes/documentary style. however, my husband and I loved it
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    By deuce883 on March 2, 2014
    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    If you get this movie to see raw mountains get shredded, you'll be disappointed - only one new mountain. However, if you grasp the idea of "first descent" being snowboard pioneers, and also neo-board-park heroes being shown the ropes of big mountain riding, you'll dig it. Not bad, but you should check out "That's it, That's all" and "The Art of Flight" instead.
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