Film Review: Chasing Ice (2012)

on Friday, December 14, 2012
'Chasing Ice' (UK Release: 14 Dec '12) // Words: Saam Das

In 2006, a climate change documentary called 'An Inconvenient Truth' had its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Despite winning an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, the Al Gore-led film largely failed to ignite policy changes, perhaps least of all in the Gore's native US. Six years later, new climate change documentary 'Chasing Ice' premiered at Sundance. Hopefully this film will have a greater impact than its predecessor.

Sadly, arguments about climate change continue to be absurdly divisive, particularly in the US. Yet there are still passionate Americans out there, like director Jeff Orlowski, who seek to educate and inform, instead of blindly ignore the mounting evidence. Appropriately, at the heart of 'Chasing Ice' is experienced photographer James Balog, a former sceptic whose views on anthropocentric climate change were turned through his work on the Extreme Ice Survey.

'Chasing Ice' uses glacial erosion as a vivid framing device to provide evidence for man-made climate change, doing so in a visually striking manner that makes the documentary worthy of a big screen release. Indeed, the film came away with the US Documentary Excellence in Cinematography Award at Sundance.

Unfortunately, the narrative does not quite resonate as successfully as a documentary like 'An Inconvenient Truth' managed. Instead, it relies upon the tremendous natural beauty on offer - even in the face of destruction, with breathtaking shots of huge ice sheets collapsing into the sea. Much of 'Chasing Ice' reflects the difficult journey to capture those shots. That hard work has paid off for now but 'Chasing Ice' should be judged on its legacy in years to come.


'Chasing Ice' is out in UK cinemas today through Dogwoof. The film premiered in the UK at Sundance London 2012.

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