Long Live Chainsaw is a fitting and emotional memoir of Stevie Smith's life of joy and excellence.
Words: Hayden Wright
For those engrained in the Downhill World Cup racing community, May 6th, 2016 will forever be remembered as a day of tragedy. It was a day where downhill racing, and mountain biking as a whole lost one of its brightest stars.
Stevie Smith was known across the industry as a larger-than-life character, who carried a level of enthusiasm and joy to the 2013 World Cup overall championship not seen from his predecessors. Long Live Chainsaw is a feature length documentary produced in collaboration between Anthill Films and Red Bull Media House which chronicles Stevie’s meteoric rise through the sport, beginning in a small Canadian town named Nanaimo and following his journey to the top step of the podium at the Leogang world cup in 2013.
The opening to the documentary does a fantastic job of setting out the landscape of downhill mountain biking on a whole, to ensure that those watching the film who are unfamiliar to the sport are given a quick education as to what downhill racing is, and why it is so universally loved by mountain bikers across the globe.
Narrated by a host of characters from Stevie’s childhood, family, and World Cup legends alike they guide the viewer through Stevie’s life from his early childhood, to his discovery of mountain biking and beyond. The movie is set out in a way that is less based on bikes and race results, and more on Stevie and the close knit community he wove throughout his life. In doing this, the producers have made it an engaging film for riders and non-riders alike, and we highly recommend you sit down and watch this one with your family, friends or significant others whether they ride bikes or not.
The crescendo of Long Live Chainsaw is a detailed recount of his 2013 World Cup Overall winning season, in which he strung together three race victories on the trot under immense pressure to win the biggest championship in mountain biking and place himself firmly atop of the sport he loved.
Narrated primarily by Gee Atherton, who was his main rival in the 2013 season, the film gives a detailed recount of each of the six rounds including race footage and previously unseen behind the scenes video including pre and post-race comments from Stevie after each round.
Forever the relaxed underdog, he was seemingly immune to the pressure of the situation at hand, and when asked how he was feeling prior to the final race run of the season, in which the championship was there for the taking he said “I’m stoked to even be a part of it and have the opportunity so, worst-case scenario I’m still happy and best case scenario I’m damn pumped”. What followed from here is a race run for the ages, still giving us goosebumps to this day. Watching Stevie rip down the Leogang course with such aggression while the championship was on the line is an obvious accumulation of his life’s work.
The relief, joy and excitement shown not only by Stevie but the entire World Cup Downhill community when he won that race and championship is a true indicator of how loved he was across the entire industry. The happy-go-lucky kid from a small town in Canada was now the World Cup Downhill Series Champion.
The final scenes of the movie give a heart wrenching account of Stevie's untimely passing, from those who were closest to him. We shed a few tears through the closing stages of the film and are confident you will too, so best to have a box of tissues at hand. The detailed description of Stevie’s final moments as told by his mother and closest friends is one of the saddest and most emotive pieces of cinema we have watched in years. Following this are the heart-warming accounts of the legacy he has left on his local community and the sport, ensuring that his memory will live on in the hearts and minds of those who looked up to him as a hero they could strive to become one day.
Long Live Chainsaw is the perfect way for people to relive the time when Stevie Smith was at the pinnacle of our sport and keep his legacy alive for years to come. Get yourself a bowl of popcorn, some tissues and a group of friends and treat yourself to the best MTB movie we’ve seen in years