A documentary exploring one photographer's obsession with man in nature, Chasing Ice must be one of the most beautiful films of the year. But the raw splendor of ice, in the far reaches of Iceland and Greenland to name a few locations, belies a grim truth: global warming is real. As photographer James Balog pointed out at a special screening Wednesday night that included Harry Belafonte, Judd Hirsch, Israel Horowitz, Josh Mostel, among many others at the Museum of Art and Design, the public perception is that there is a debate going, but in actual fact the science on global warming is clear. The question is, what are we going to do about climate change while we have a chance?
With his team, Balog planted cameras in the harshest environments to shoot events in nature and captured never-before-filmed giant bricks of ice breaking off from glaciers. You see him -- outfitted in heavy shoes with spikes and recovering from knee surgery, a human scale leitmotif -- scaling ice cliffs, looking down into bottomless ravines -- and rushing waters. What he thought would be a three-year project turns out to be "forever," as he put it. Everywhere, when you talk to people who work close to nature, farming, for example, they all know with certainty that soil, crops, all of nature is transforming: things aren't the way they used to be. A handsome Rizzoli book documents his photos.
Balog said he'd like to bring doubters (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the like) up to these remote vistas to show them what nature is doing. They should see this film. While the dramatic footage draws you in, as does music performed by Scarlett Johansson and Joshua Bell, no answers are given. In fact, no questions are asked. You are encouraged to bring your own voice to the unfolding drama.
A buffet dinner upstairs at Robert Restaurant organized by the Peggy Siegal Company featured an ice sculpture against the cityscape below. The skyscrapers juxtaposed with the traffic weaving around the bucolic park recalled an image. The ice breaking off a glacier is comparable to a piece of Manhattan floating away. For now at least, all was chill.
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