“There’s no planet B.”
It’s one of the lines from Warren Miller’s 2013 ski film, Ticket to Ride, which, along with a better script, better sound track and better camera shots, offers a gentle suggestion that those who love the snow should pay serious attention to global warming.
Miller’s annual introduction to the ski (and snowboard) season is the company’s best film in years. There are actual stories and interviews with the athletes taking the incredible runs in faraway places. The funny bits which made Miller a ski film legend are back, and there are even snippets from old Miller films that are fascinating, given today’s technology.
Instead of the past few years of ever-more-boring Miller films, where the the sound track is mainly someone hyping yet another annonomyous run that could be anywhere in the world, this year’s film creatively gets into details, showing the natives and unique characteristics of the remote sites used in the film. A sequence of a snowboarder trying to explain his reason for being there to a group of bewildered natives who speak no English is hilarious, as is the totally unconnected sequence of a deliberately fake ‘guru’ sitting on a mountain top as a star athlete climbs up to him.
The daring snowriding holds more interest this year, because it’s not just the same repeated remote shots of someone on snow. There’s dialogue, not just narration. Film time is given to showing the personalities of the athletes, so when Kaylin Richarson describes her Norwegian background, there’s a relationship to watching her explore radical powder lines in that country. Seeing the effort required by Olympic gold medalists like Ted Ligety, Tommy Moe and Seth Wescott to climb up steep peaks to hit untracked bowls of powder is far more interesting than just showing another helicopter taking off and landing.
There’s still one big flaw: no ‘lower third,’ the usual identification of anyone who is speaking. Those unfamiliar with the various featured athletes will have no way of knowing who they are. Identifying them by putting a name up (every single time) doesn’t take much work. Why didn’t the producers do it? The problem could easily be fixed now, as the film is just starting its run.
However, the sound track is one of Miller’s best. It’s not just repeatedly loud thumping music. Ticket to Ride has great beats that really fit the action; some that are techno, some that are like classical music, some just subtle rhythms . Miller’s company has finally found an editor who knows how to cut to the beat, so the film gives the audience a much more visceral feeling, a connection to the action.
This movie owes a lot to GoPro. The plethora of point-of-view filming gives a real feeling of being on the slopes with the athletes. Filming without having to hold and steady a heavy camera allows a realism that has never existed in previous Miller films. Ticket to Ride restores Miller’s mojo. If you haven’t been to one of these movies in years, this is the year you should see one again.