Chasing Ice

Spirituality & Health Magazine
reviewed by Bilge Ebiri

Directed by Jeff Orlowski

Never has so much beauty held this much danger: visually, Chasing Ice is a staggeringly gorgeous film that depicts the tangible physical effects of climate change on glaciers in Greenland, Alaska, and Montana. But your rapture catches in your throat, because what you’re seeing is, effectively, the destruction of the planet before your very eyes.

Director/cinematographer Jeff Orlowski’s film is partly a portrait of nature photographer James Balog, who, after years of shooting endangered animals, decided to try to find a way to capture a visually compelling (and comprehensible) record of the retreat of Earth’s glaciers.

Chasing Ice shares a couple of producers with 2009’s Academy Award–winning The Cove, which portrayed how a team of activists and filmmakers managed to infiltrate a cove in Japan where dolphins were being slaughtered on an annual basis, in order to photograph the massacre. And the new film has a similar Mission: Impossible feel to it, which is reasonably entertaining—followed by the somber realization that comes with the eventual success of such a grim endeavor. Balog is perhaps a bit drier and less fascinating as a cinematic guide than Ric O’Barry, the activist and reformed dolphin trainer who was the spiritual center of The Cove, but that’s a relatively minor quibble. True, there’s no blood this time around, no gruesome images of dolphins dying, but it could be argued that the supernaturally beautiful images that Balog (and, by extension, Orlowski) captures are even more despairing and alarming.

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