A visually stunning chronicle of what it is like to live in Antarctica for a full year, including winters isolated from the rest of the world, and enduring months of darkness in the coldest place on Earth.
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This feature-length film reveals what it is like to live and work at the bottom of the planet, in Antarctica, for a full year. The story is not from the point of view of scientists, but of the people who spend the most time there; the everyday workers who keep the stations running in the harshest place on the planet. Filmed over 15 years by Frozen Planet photographer Anthony Powell, the film features a unique insiders point of view, with unparalleled access, and never before seen stunning footage of the deep Antarctic winters.Written by
A most warm and heartfelt documentary about the most cold place on Earth
Documentaries are definitely not for everyone. It takes a certain patience, curiosity and contemplation to watch the world living its ordinary life, just like it's the case with soap operas or reality shows that try to imitate the real life in vitro. And i consider myself lucky to be able to enjoy the documentaries, since it really is a unique genre that offers some unique experience to a viewer.
Honestly, i didn't expect too much from this film. In my experience with nature documentaries, one has to be both really big and really professional to shoot a truly decent documentary, that is why i absolutely adore the BBC films with David Attenborough, moderately accept the Discovery and National Geographic products and am outright sceptical about everything else. And this movie had that amateur indie feeling that in 99 cases out of 100 means that the outcome is bound to be mediocre.
To my big (and pleasant) surprise, this was that very "1 out of 100" exception. Yes, the movie is basically made by a single man, a time lapse photography enthusiast who spent several years working on a polar base in Antarctica. But the fact that we are being introduced to that vast and secluded icy world by someone who's not a stranger to it himself makes it a different experience entirely. Anthony "Antz" Powell doesn't simply look for some "fancy stuff" to film and later present to us. He actually lives through all these moments, and we are allowed to witness them, which makes this film a rather intimate experience.
It may sound silly, but another great thing about this movie is that it's not just about Antarctica. Though it does share with us the amazing beauty of its pristine nature, it doesn't sell Antarctica as the main and only star. After all, this huge frozen world can be equally beautiful and depressing. Instead, we look at this continent and the life that managed to bind itself to it through the eyes of the fellow workers, people who spent months, or even years, there doing their job and whose impression of Antarctica and the way humans interact with it is the most honest and true.
It's probably not very groundbreaking, but illustrating life in Antarctica with simple people's lives and experiences makes this movie really heartfelt. It is a documentaty, but you invest yourself emotionally into it, you care about the people shown in it, follow their stories, connect to their problems, feelings and dreams. This removes restraints between you and the objects shown in the movie, making you more than just an impassive spectator, almost like a friend to those people. You do not simply consume facts or imagery, as the so-so documentaries offer you to do, you actually live through them.
Maybe i'm fooling myself, but 'Antarctica: A Year on Ice' gave me a bit of a feeling of actually spending a year there. And what it is if not a sign that the film did its job well?
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