October, 1988. Adam Carlson, a reporter for a local Anchorage television station, is currently in Barrow doing a series of pieces on the "local cultural color" of northern Alaska. While out on the sea ice filming a less than promising piece, he spots off in the distance what ends up being three California gray whales - a mother, father and son - who are literally imprisoned by ice which has surrounded them in the earlier than usual onset of winter. They are looking worse for wear as they have been ramming the ice surface to maintain a hole in the ice to be able to breathe and thus survive. The professional and cultural assessment he receives is that the whales, in their current situation, cannot survive for more than a few days, with the ice fives miles in distance to the open ocean with a vertical ice shelf that has developed midway. Adam's piece on the whales not only gets played on his station, but is picked up by news services throughout the States, including the national ...Written by
Throughout the film, nobody's breath appears when they are outdoors, despite the frigid temperatures that they were reporting. See more »
For thousands of years my people have lived at the edge of the world. Unknown, alone, until one brief moment when the world found us.
[Eskimo whalers paddling their boat]
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At the very end of the credits, when the Working Title logo appears, we hear the songs of the whales. See more »
This is a slow movie. Prepare to watch people standing around a hole in the ice. If you think gray whales are a waste of time, you won't be moved. On the other hand, if you can pull for a family of marine mammals in danger of freezing to death, you will probably find satisfaction in this movie's numerous charms. You'll enjoy the dignity given to the Inuit people, environmentalists, oil executives, Soviets, journalists, and even Republicans(!) who collaborate in dramatic efforts to save the trapped whales. You'll appreciate the care taken with a late 80's period piece, down to the silk blouses, big glasses, hair, and Peter Jennings. You may even be moved by the warm and unguarded performances of Drew Berrymore, John Kasinksi, and others.
It's possible you may have your heart enlarged by the uncommon efforts of truly diverse people on behalf of beautiful and vulnerable earthlings like the grays. There is an unabashed love for both the whales and the humans portrayed in this movie, whose lives and futures are at stake in a variety of ways. Some may regard this affection as sentimentality, but the sense of humor sustained throughout the film argues against this. Somehow I think the worst-ever portrayal of Ronald Reagan was hardly unintentional. This director definitely has it in for for Minnesotans, too.
My ten and thirteen year-old sons were engrossed by this true story brought to the screen and gave it two thumbs up. My wife and I enjoyed being unembarrassed in their presence throughout.
Simply as an introduction to Barrow, Alaska, the movie is totally worthwhile.
My biggest complaint: Drew Barrymore's lips should be blue when scuba diving in frigid Artic waters.
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