The Best Films of Summer 2012: 'Chasing Ice'

An outdoor photographer goes in search of the planets fast-fading glaciers

Chasing Ice

Trekking in     Photo: James Balog

Ostensibly, Chasing Ice is a visual feast about photographer James Balog’s remarkable attempt to document the planet’s receding glaciers. Over five years, first-time director Jeff Orlowski tags along as Balog and his team set up timelapse cameras in Iceland, Alaska, and Greenland. Icebergs calve, cameras malfunction, tents tumble across ice fields, and glaciers the size of lower Manhattan disintegrate before our eyes. Along the way, we occasionally hear about how screwed we are from a clear-eyed band of mostly bearded climate scientists. But the film never becomes pedantic or dogmatic, and Orlowski wisely lets his absolutely stunning footage—and Balog’s equally stunning photographs—drive the ship. The results, especially the before and after images of the retreating glaciers, are, as Balog puts it, “a magical, miraculous, horrible, scary thing.” At numerous festivals

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