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November 09, 2012

Short Review: "Chasing Ice" Documentary


I had the opportunity to watch the new documentary Chasing Ice recently, and it was beautiful. The film follows photographer James Balog as he tracks the retreat of several of the world's glaciers with time-lapse photography. The results do not disappoint. Although, I guess since he's showing the dramatic retreat of so many glaciers due to climate change, it is disappointing, but you can't help having your breath taken away by the beauty of his images and videos throughout the film.

I also enjoyed seeing the nuts and bolts behind his team's quest to place more than 20 cameras in such harsh conditions in order to document the glaciers' demise. They ice climb, rock climb, drill holes into mountain faces while dangling off cliffs -- it's amazing the lengths they went to.

Also worth noting - Balog used to be a climate skeptic, but says he's changed his mind as he's documented Arctic ice over the years.

Two moments from the film stand out to me. First, when he's standing on a glacier pointing out the tiny holes in the ice caused by soot from power plants worldwide. Cryoconite, it's called, and because it's dark, it just increases the melting even more so. You can see examples of it in this photo from Balog's photography website.

The other moment you can partially see in the trailer. It's when his team captures an absolutely massive glacier splitting in half. They claim the chunk is the size of Manhattan - it's unbelievable both that it's happening and that they caught it on film.

My recommendation is that you see this on the big screen -- TV screens don't do justice to the beauty of the film and photos. The film opens November 9 - TODAY! Check out the review from my colleague Stacy Bare, and also these other reviews and articles on the film.

-- Heather Moyer, Sierra Club Media Team

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