Chasing Ice (4 stars)

Chasing Ice

Documentary on environmental change by National Geographic photographer

For all the talk of climate change and its impact on the planet, actually visualising how our planet is changing is often a challenge. With his project, the Extreme Ice Survey, National Geographic photographer James Balog aims to put the very real impact of climate change into a visual context.

Setting up cameras in Greenland, Alaska and Iceland, Balog and his team have created time lapse videos showing the astonishing retreat of these frozen rivers. Most spectacular of all is his breathtaking footage of glaciers 'calving' – huge sections of ice (some the size of Manhattan) breaking off into the ocean.

Balog's love of photographing ice is apparent and Chasing Ice is filled with beautiful frozen landscapes and images of ice contorted into sublime abstract sculptures. But there is also an important environmental message underlying these images: the current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are unprecedented and the planet is dramatically approaching an environmental tipping point.

Director Jeff Orlowski doesn't preach to his audience though and successfully balances a sense of urgency with this fascinating subject matter. It's an absorbing and vital watch.

Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Thu 27–Mon 31 Dec.


Chasing Ice

  • 4 stars
  • 2012
  • US
  • 1h 14min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Jeff Orlowski
  • Written by: Mark Monroe
  • Cast: James Balog, Svavar Jonatansson, Adam LeWinter
  • UK release: 14 December 2012

National Geographic photographer James Balog's time-lapse 'extreme ice survey' demonstrates undeniable evidence of our planet's changing climate.