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Chasing Ice - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Chasing Ice
Directing: A-
Writing: B+
Cinematography: A-
Editing: A-

Now this -- this is a movie that must be seen. And on the big screen, too: audiences need to feel the full impact of the imagery presented here. Even movie theatre wide screens don't do it justice when we're talking about glaciers. Chasing Ice is all of 75 minutes long, so what excuse do you have?

It's all well and good to say that science doesn't lie. We live in a world full of greedy and religious zealots who generally won't believe anything but their own eyes. There are some who argue that this movie inexcusably sidesteps science in favor of a bunch of pictures of melting ice. To that, I say: whatever works. Keep it simple, stupid.

I've long understood the veracity of global warming. I don't even want to call it "climate change," knowing that's just a marketing tool to get the dumb shits of the world slightly closer to a point of understanding. And I must say that even I had a far more visceral, emotional reaction to the imagery in this film than I ever did to the tidal wave of statistics that have been coming at us over the past three decades, or even to the footage of ever-increasing natural disasters.

Their frequency and severity may change, but hurricanes and wildfires are nothing new. This movie provides something definitive in its difference, something never seen before. And yes, they are as simple as before and after pictures. But when the "after" is of a glacier having broken off in pieces cumulatively the size of lower Manhattan, how can you not react?

Photographer James Balog assembled a small group to aid him in installing stationery cameras in a host of locations in Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, and Montana, where they would take pictures at timed intervals to show the changing landscape of the glaciers. He knew what he expected to record -- ice receding far more than rebuilding -- and even he was shocked by what he found. After a few setbacks with technology and finding properly weather-resistant equipment, he found ice receding at jaw-dropping speed over the course of just a couple of years.

And we see it all here. The specifics of how and why it's happening -- in other words, global warming -- are touched on, and none of it is anything any of us with a cursory knowledge haven't already heard before. What we see here is the photographic results. Scientific proof has been readily available for decades, but the general public is not comprised of scientists. In fact, it is comprised of a shocking number of people duped into thinking global warming is still just a theory. That's all bullshit, and here are the pictures to prove it.

It doesn't hurt that the imagery is also staggeringly beautiful. It's a strange mix, actually, of beauty and heartbreak. What we are witness to here is a collection of vistas never again to be. In one amazing shot among many, there is film footage of an ice peninsula the length of five football fields cracking off and upturning as it drops into the sea. There follows several shots of massive chunks of ice falling off. And then there are photos with lines drawn on them to show the previous year's ice level, compared to the then-current year. And it makes you want to weep for all humankind.

One thing Chasing Ice hammers home is the changing nature of our hope for the future. We've moved beyond how we can prevent the effects of global warming and moved into how we'll deal with them. 150 million people expected to be displaced by rising sea levels in the next several decades: not a theory. It's going to happen. We're seeing it happen, with our own eyes, as we see the ice melting and rushing into the sea.

I guess it's still better to be informed than to have our heads in the sand. Because the heads still in the sand are going to drown.

The melting ice superhighway: straight to the sea in CHASING ICE.

Overall: A-
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