The most important moments in this 80 minute documentary about the top of the world well, melting, come right at the beginning. So far right at the beginning that, if you are on autopilot, or if you are watching it on DVD, then you won’t even catch them.
What the hell am I talking about? I am talking about the adverts, my friend. Of which more later.
The guy behind the documentary is James Balog, an “acclaimed photographer” who has been making books and films about our species’ impact for a long time. Here he has made a stirring, beautiful and – for some – profoundly transformative film. (See the video below for just how mind-blowing it can be).
So beautiful is the footage that it gets you thinking about “climate pr0n” and that whole “storm called progress (angel of history)” thing – that “terrible beauty”.
Balog – well, the easiest thing is to cut and paste from the official blurb – uses “revolutionary time-lapse cameras to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers. His hauntingly beautiful videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate.
“Traveling with a team of young adventurers across the brutal Arctic, Balog risks his career and his well-being in pursuit of the biggest story facing humanity. As the debate polarizes America, and the intensity of natural disasters ramps up globally, Chasing Ice depicts a heroic photojournalist on a mission to deliver fragile hope to our carbon-powered planet.”
Yes, a photojournalist so heroic that he ignores expert (medical) advice in order to keep taking footage (that other people could take) of the consequences of our species ignoring expert (climatological) advice. The irony, I think, was lost on him. Or in any case, didn’t make the final cut.
It’s also not at all clear what “fragile hope” he is delivering, though I may have blinked. There’s nowt in the film (which I like and recommend, btw) about the insane levels of consumption that we are encouraging ourselves to indulge in. Which brings me back to the adverts… I scribbled down what they were shilling –
- Samsung Galaxy Camera (the aforehyperlinked Walter Benjamin would have something to say about this too)
- Boots (buy stuff for Christmas)
- Nexus 7 (not the replicants, they were Nexus 6)
- Dairy Lea (cow-a-bunga)
- Volkswagen (more than once – they sponsor “independent cinema” y’see)
- Car Insurance
- ASDA (scenes of a typical – or aspirational – Christmas)
- HTC smart phone
- Some sugary-sweet snack things guaranteed to rot your teeth and pancreas
It’s almost as if we are goldfish, and we simply cannot see the metaphorical water – the imperative to consume – all around us. Even (especially?) when the film we are about to watch is about the literal waters rising.
I came home to write this review, and blow me down with a feather if the BBC isn’t reporting that the “West Antarctic Ice Sheet warming nearly twice as fast as previously thought.” (For background, see here.) None of this is in ANY way AT ALL connected to this – “More rain set to exacerbate flood disruption.” I mean, all the weird weather we are having is totally NOT what the climate scientists have been saying would happen. And the silence you hear coming from those craven meat-puppets at the BBC is totally responsible journalism, oh yes.
Anyway, back to the documentary. Is the world a better place for the existence of this film? Well, it’s a potentially better-informed place. Is the world a safer place? No, for that you need a growing, learning, organising and winning climate movement. And right now, that seems a very long way off indeed.
Other random burblings
I saw “An Inconvenient Truth” in that self-same cinema (number 1), in September 2006, shortly after the first climate camp. It was followed by a panel discussion that included – for a while – David Miliband. Whatever happened to him? And whatever happened to the “Climate Clinics” that used to turn up at the three main political parties’ conferences, with a series of variable-quality events? Perhaps its sponsors could no longer be bothered to pretend they gave a damn?
The skeptics seem, as far as my (admittedly brief) search of the Interwebs could tell, merely snarking about Balog’s carbon footprint.