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Chasing Ice | The Clapper Bored

Chasing Ice

Ever since 2006 we’ve been ALL ABOUT global warming documentaries. They’re just so trendy and liberal and make us all feel really good about all the greenhouse gases we’ve been spewing out into the atmosphere. Well, Chasing Ice is a slightly different beast- something that has been made as a work of art, rather than a simple polemic about the effects of climate change. Yes, yes, there’s all that nagging stuff about why the glaciers are melting, but this seems to be a film that’s more about the mere fact and sheer scale of the collapse. Yes, there’s something beautiful to be found in the destruction.

At the heart of the film is photographer James Balog, whose work has adorned the pages of periodicals like National Geographic and tends to focus on endangered species and other races against time. So, fittingly, he becomes the obsessive leader of a project to capture the retreat of glaciers using timelapse photography. The process of doing this is remarkably tough, both from a photographic and conservationist point of view, and makes for a film that is gripping in its portrayal of the extremes of human emotion. Everyone involved is so fundamentally concerned with what is happening in Iceland, Greenland and Alaska that their passion often has more of an effect than a simple statement of the dire position of the world would have.

But it does also, occasionally, make the documentary feel a little lightweight, getting by more on the charisma of its protagonist and the undeniable beauty of the images that have been captured. But Chasing Ice is a work of art, not of science, so it’s fitting that the man at the heart of it is a photographer rather than a glaciologist. He’s stubborn, often foolish, but endearingly earnest in his worries. If Balog is willing to put everything on the line for the sake of these glaciers then the very least you can do is give this film a watch. And at a slight 76 minutes, it never outstays its welcome and looks terrific along the way.

An  affecting climate change documentary that doesn’t really preach or seek to inform, but delivers a strikingly beautiful eulogy for the glaciers.

Title: Chasing ice
Director: Jeff Orlowski
Starring: James Balog, some ice
Running time: 76 mins
Certificate : 12a cos Balog says fuck once

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