On the Hill: Missing Miller
October 29, 2005
The new Warren Miller film “Higher Ground” has everything fans have come to expect from the most trusted name in the ski-flick industry.There are the trademark wet-your-pants shots of skiers and snowboarders being dumped by a helicopter atop mountains so steep that they look like oversized shark teeth. There’s also the expected montages of big-name athletes dropping huge cliffs or blasting off mammoth kickers. That, plus a number of segments to make audiences laugh – the funniest of which is a montage of the World Championship of Pond Skimming in Vail.But something’s missing.The one thing that Warren Miller’s 56th film needs is more of Miller himself. Unlike in years past, Miller isn’t the chief narrator of a film that bears his name. That task falls to World Cup moguls champ Jeremy Bloom.Bloom doesn’t do a bad job. Some of his lines sound like he’s reading lines off a teleprompter at an awards show, but then again, the writing for this year’s film doesn’t exactly channel Faulkner. Miller chimes in with little tidbits here and there, but the film leaves audiences – especially those who grew up with his films – wanting more.How important is one man’s voice? Well, pretty important when it’s a trusted voice like Miller’s – a first-rate storyteller for more than half a century. College football on ABC wasn’t the same when Keith Jackson retired a couple of years ago. It won’t be the same again when the 77-year-old Jackson – who came back after a two-year stint away from the booth – retires for the last time, likely after this season. Cubs baseball hasn’t been the same since Harry Caray died.Miller’s media rep said the reasons for his limited role in this year’s film were simple. At 81, Miller is enjoying his retirement. The father of the modern ski film is currently on a sailing trip that will last for a couple of weeks. Here’s hoping that it’s all smooth sailing from here on out, Warren. Hopefully we’ll hear from you again next year.