So I saw Chasing Ice this past Tuesday at the Campus Theater and it was…good. Not great. But good. I love watching all types of movies, too, so don’t just write me off as someone who prefers action movies to documentaries because it’s not true!
Chasing Ice follows James Balog (fun fact: HE’S FROM DANVILLE!) and his efforts with Extreme Ice Survey, a project devoted to capturing the effects of climate change through time-lapse photography. The movie follow James starting in 2007 as he and his team install 27 time-lapse cameras at 18 glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, and even Montana. Installing these cameras wasn’t easy, though. Winds of up to 150 mph and temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit tested even the most durable technology that EIS could find. The film followed James and his crew as they installed, maintained, and restructured these camera systems that weighed upwards of 150 pounds. These cameras, powered by solar panels and batteries, shot once every half-hour in daylight, totaling roughly 8,000 images per camera year.
The end of the film shows the results of all the hard work and dedication that EIS put in over several years. I was shocked by some of the time-lapse videos which showed just how much these glaciers have melted or receded in a matter of only a couple years. There were also some interesting scenes of James and his crew putting themselves into dangerous situations just to get a photograph or two. Overall, the most interesting part of Chasing Ice was the videos and images that EIS recorded. The final time-lapse videos, the nighttime photographs, and the largest glacier calving ever recorded on video were all really cool to see (see below).
However, I didn’t walk away thinking it was a great film because the filmmakers of Chasing Ice followed James Balog more than I thought they should have. Rather than engaging the viewer emotionally through how this climate change will affect 🙂 us and the generations to come, the film focuses more on James and his three knee surgeries because he just can’t stop hiking and setting up these cameras. I don’t mean to hate on James; there WERE some emotional scenes that made me realize just how invested he was in EIS – him breaking down in tears when he went to check on one of the cameras and it wasn’t working, for example. Chasing Ice does explain the effects of the climate change, but just not in an emotionally-engaging way in my opinion. I give it a B+.
Here’s a trailer if y’all are interested!