'National Geographic' photographer James Balog was once a skeptic about climate change. But through his Extreme Ice Survey, he discovers undeniable evidence of our changing planet. In 'Chasing Ice,' we follow Balog across the Arctic as he deploys revolutionary time-lapse cameras designed for one purpose: to capture a multi-year record of the world's changing glaciers. Balog's hauntingly beautiful videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate. Traveling with a young team of adventurers by helicopter, canoe and dog sled across three continents, Balog risks his career and his well-being in pursuit of the biggest story in human history. As the debate polarizes America and the intensity of natural disasters ramp up around the world, 'Chasing Ice' depicts a heroic photojournalist on a mission to gather evidence and deliver hope to our carbon-powered planetWritten by
James Balog - Photographer:
If you had an abscess in your tooth, would you keep going to dentist after dentist until you found a dentist who said, "Ah, don't worry about it. Leave that rotten tooth in"? Or would you pull it out because more of the other dentists told you you had a problem? That's sort of what we're doing with climate change.
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Chasing Ice is as strong a documentary as I have ever seen concerning the issues of global warming, and that includes Al Gore's terrific Oscar winning Inconvenient Truth. It centers on a man named James Balog, a National Geographic photographer, who with a team sets an array of advanced cameras focusing on various glaciers in Greenland, Iceland and Alaska in order to see the change in the ice coverage over periods of months and years. At first the complex and fragile nature of such a program leads to great technical difficulties, but eventually they do get the program on track, and the results are no less than stunning.
The film is not overtly political. It begins with a montage of "skeptics" of human caused climate change. Balog, who claims to have himself once been a skeptic, ends up getting deeply involved in the project to the detriment of time with his family and the numerous surgeries he gets on his knees. Throughout the film the science of global warming and it's general effects on the planet is tiptoed into, but primarily it lets the visuals do the talking. This film is beautiful and disturbing literally at the same time with treks across ice sheets viewing the melting in real time, images of glaciers breaking off into the sea, and the main focus the time-lapse footage.
I'm not going to say exactly how these years-long images turned out, but just mention they are insightful, gorgeous, and certainly do not contradict the science which in at least general terms has been settled for many years. The highlight of the movie for me is not however seeing the glaciers shrink over a long period of time, but an instant of change after a couple of Balog's colleagues have sat on a vulnerable piece of ice for a few days; it's a spectacular break off of ice like you've never seen before—I was horrifically captivated.
Chasing Ice is fascinating on a personal and scientific level, and in my opinion has to be considered one of the most important documentaries of this decade. This film rightly doesn't try to find solutions to the problem as it's beyond its scope, but it clearly states that there is a problem; one we can't ignore.
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