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Chasing Ice: Pictures from ground zero of climate change

by Brian D. Johnson on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 5:58am - 63 Comments [pic]
EIS field assistant, Adam LeWinter on NE rim of Birthday Canyon, Greenland Ice Sheet, July 2009 / Photograph by James Balog For the climate-change skeptics out there, who cling to their God-given right to ignore science and stoke debate with the fossil fuel of old-growth ideology, Chasing Iceshould be required viewing. And for those of us who are already sufficiently alarmed, and don’t think we can bear to watch any more inconvenient truths, it’s still required viewing. This is an eye-opening documentary, full of epic beauty and astonishing revelations (of the non-Biblical kind). Which is not to say it’s a truly great film. Too much of the narrative dwells on the trials and tribulations of its hero, National Geographic photographer James Balog, whose personal quest can’t possibly compete with what he’s capturing through his lens. This story did not need “humanizing.” We could care less about Balog’s crumbling knee and its multiple surgeries as he struggles to rappel down an ice face—not when we’re about to see a section of Greenland’s ice sheet the size of Lower Manhattan, and twice as tall, calve into the Arctic Ocean in real time. Besides, the Extreme Ice Survey, which this film documents seems very much a team effort, even if Balog’s sensitive eye endows it with an esthetic grandeur reminiscent of Manufactured Landscapes, another movie that looks over the shoulder of a celebrated photographer. [pic]

James Balog hangs off cliff by Columbia Glacier, Alaska to install time-lapse camera Chasing Ice has won awards at Hot Docs, Sundance, and South By Southwest festivals, and will likely be Oscar-nominated. It was created by Colorado director Jeff Orlowski and the Oscar-winning team behind The Cove, producer Paula duPre’ Pesmen and writer Mark Monroe. And its meditative score, in a Philip Glass style, comes...
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