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National Film Unit

Brian Brake above Glenorchy, Otago
Brian Brake above Glenorchy, Otago circa 1951, Maker unknown, Glenorchy. Gift of Mr Raymond Wai-Man Lau, 2001. Te Papa

Brian Brake became a film cameraman at the National Film Unit, Wellington, in 1948. In 1952 and 1953 he filmed and directed Snows of Aorangi.

In one section, Brake discarded the standard 1950s voice-over commentary and instead edited a balletic sequence of skiers weaving down a mountain entirely to music. However, as he later complained, ‘Some bureaucrat came and demanded to be told in the narration how nice the snow was. In other words, stating the obvious.’

Brake’s version was eventually released and won awards, but he was ‘completely fed up [with such interference] by the end’ and left the Unit in 1954.

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