Acclaimed photographer James Balog was once a sceptic about climate change. But through his Extreme Ice Survey, he discovered undeniable evidence of how quickly our planet was changing. For several years his quest for the truth was filmed by Jeff Orlowski, who ensured footage from the survey became Chasing Ice, a jaw-dropping feature full of indescribably stunning footage.
Unlike other films about global warming Chasing Ice does not set about to lecture us to change our ways. It doesn’t need to. In effect the documentary follows a one man’s quest to photograph the glacier melts which show us how global warming is affecting the world. We can do the maths ourselves based on the outcome.
Balog deploys revolutionary time-lapse cameras to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers. His beautiful videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breath-taking rate.
Orlowski met Balog through a good mutual friend. He was a photographer himself and a fan of Balog’s work. In 2007, when Balog first started his project called the Extreme Ice Survey he offered to help him. Orlowski started to document every trip they, together with a small team of helpers, undertook. They travelled from Greenland to Alaska en installed time-lapse cameras in some of the most difficult to reach places in the world under some of the most difficult circumstances to work under. Still, when the time-lapses started to come back from the field Orlowski knew the project was working. Full of confidence he spent the next few years dedicated to making a documentary about ice.
The film also offers more than just Balog’s amazing imagery. We learn a lot about the man himself, his drive and how he very nearly had to throw the towel in the ring after knee problems threatened his ability to ever hike again – which would make it impossible for him to continue to do the work he loves.
The combination of these three components, the stunning imagery, Balog’s personal struggle and the undeniable frightening outcomes of his survey make this an excellent documentary that deserves all the praise it has so far been given.
Chasing Ice will be released in UK cinemas on 14 December. To find out more please visit the documentary’s official website.