In his new film "Chasing Ice
," Director Jeff Orlowski utilizes images taken over the course of time to demonstrate the power of glaciers. The documentary makes clear the changes that are occurring across the planet due to global warming. The film is short but sturdy, as the director successfully pieces together a photographic marvel of glacial recession
. "Chasing Ice" also makes clear the passion of photographer and climate scientist James Balog, adding human emotion to an epic story.
Photo: Theresa Soley
Balog repeatedly mentions his distaste for statistics and numbers — and the inability of numbers to create change in the world. Although he has had multiple knee surgeries, Balog treks difficult terrain for the perfect shot. Balog and his team transport viewers to a place where then can see climate change in action: at the base of a glacier. Some of the footage comes from the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska.
Time is a recurring theme in the film, as the team attempts to capture glacial change on a human time scale. The geological time scale
can be difficult for humans to comprehend due to our limited time on the planet. Glaciers take thousands of years to build, advance and retreat. They have been metamorphosing through periods of warming and cooling since the origins of the planet, certainly longer than humans have been around. Glacial fluctuations and climate changes are a natural part of Earth’s cycles. Never before in history have humans been able to witness severe glacial change on our own incremental time scale. As described in a review by The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
, the film team uses footage from, “several continents to capture tangible photographic evidence of a change in the natural order.” The director proves through powerful images that these changes are occurring rapidly due to anthropogenic causes.
Photo: Theresa Soley
Thanks to modern technology, time-lapse photographs were taken of glaciers continuously for three years time. Typically photographs capture and share just one single moment, but time-lapse sequences perfectly reveal glacial disappearance over a period of time. As director Orlowski states, “We've all seen time-lapse videos before, but James has figured out a way to capture the actual process of climate change in action. By manipulating time and compressing years into seconds, we can finally see something that previously was just an idea." The compilation of images synced together in this film reveals the immensity of glacial changes.
Most people on the planet do not have the ability to witness the power of glaciers first-hand, which is why we need photographers and filmmakers to bring this story to the screen. The film demonstrates ice’s enormous strength, which we might not recognize otherwise. Due to the forces of gravity, melting, freezing, advance, and retreat, glaciers have sculpted mountains, carved valleys and increased sea levels. Many environments worldwide are shaped by the domination of ice, making it a paramount geographical shaper of Earth. The changes documented in "Chasing Ice" are unquestionably immense, and are affecting landscapes and cultures worldwide. The footage is powerful, mesmeric and emotional.
It makes one yearn to keep the beauty of ice from disappearing before it’s too late.
The "Chasing Ice" team:
Director/Producer: Jeff Orlowski
Producers: Paula DupRe’ Pesmen and Jerry Aronson
Lead, director of extreme ice survey: James Balog
Executive producers: David and Linda Cornfield
Associate producers: Stacy Sherman, Billy Ray and James Billmaier
Editor: Davis Coombe
Composer: J. Ralph
Writer: Mark Monroe
Extreme ice survey field coordinator: Adam LeWinter
Icelandic field coordinator: Svavar Jonatansson
Scientists: Dr. Tad Pfeffer and Dr. Jason Box
Inset photo: Theresa Soley