From the producer of The Cove (2009), Chasing Ice (2012) is one of the most profound and phenomenally shot documentaries to be released in 2012. From the beginning, the audience sees clip after clip of news footage about natural disasters that has happened within recent years, which successfully ends with a well-known reporter telling the world that there isn’t such a thing as global warming. I think this segment is meant to remind people of the dangerous encounters we’ve had with nature and it brings the audience into thinking about the serious fears awaiting in the future.
This documentary is based on the beliefs and motivation of James Balog, the barefoot photographer, who wanted to find proof that global warming was, indeed, a threat to mankind. Constantly taking photos of the scenery around him, Balog has captured many of the most breathtaking pictures, many featured on covers of magazines all around the world. When Balog got started in photography, he admitted to not knowing too well what he was doing in the beginning, but reasoned that, “youthful brashness can take you a long way,” and for him, it had. Willing to invest all of his time and much of his personal finances, Balog believed that “the story is in the ice” and that he would find answers if he searched deep enough. So, with a mission on his mind, Balog contacted and researched to assemble an
all-star team that would be willing to work with him on rigging and checking 25 cameras strategically placed on a biannual schedule.
It is only natural that each frame in this documentary was carefully thought out and edited based on Balog’s design for a well-told story through a series of pictures. His stop-motion sequences of glaciers calving stunned the thousands he spoke to regarding his work. From conferences to TED, Balog has spread his message far and wide, in hopes that the future for his children can be better. As a photographer with a special eye for how light and ice can work together, Balog continues to work, having established the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS).
I enjoyed being brought into Balog’s personal life. Hearing his wife’s conviction of his work being right was encouraging and reminded me of when women talked of their husbands in wars. Though Balog didn’t encounter guns and fighting, he faced walls of ice, steep cliffs and endless abysses where with one wrong step, he could fall and never be heard from again. Even his oldest daughter said, “It’s hard to watch someone you love chase after something that may never happen.” She understood the risks he was taking and still respected his decision and supported him however she could.
The most powerful moment, however, in the entire documentary happened during the footage of the largest glacier in the world calving. The deep rumblings and sight of great mountainous glaciers just rolling over, like giant whales, one after another, was a truly miraculous and horrifying sight. According to many scientists and Balog’s predictions, during his children’s lifetimes, the world’s water level will rise up to three feet, displacing several thousands. But, still, the most fearful thing is that not many in the world understand the truth behind global warming, which is the very pollution caused by the advancing technology. One can only wonder how the public will respond to this new proof of global warming’s rapid pace.
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Tags: Balog, barefoot photographer, chasing ice, cove, documentary, Environment, Environmental Issues, Extreme Ice Survey, Geography, Glaciers, global warming, ice, James Balog, John Coleman, natural disaster, phenomenally, photographer, Physical geography, producer, the cove, well known reporter, Year of birth missing