Chasing Ice

In the spring of 2005, acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog headed to the Arctic on a tricky assignment for National Geographic: to capture images to help tell the story of the Earths changing climate. Even with a scientific upbringing, Balog had been a skeptic about climate change. But that first trip north opened his eyes to the biggest story in human history and sparked a challenge within him that would put his career and his very well-being at risk.

"Chasing Ice" is the story of one mans mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of our changing planet. Within months of that first trip to Iceland, the photographer conceived the boldest expedition of his life: The Extreme Ice Survey. With a band of young adventurers in tow, Balog began deploying revolutionary time-lapse cameras across the brutal Arctic to capture a multi-year record of the worlds changing glaciers.

As the debate polarizes America and the intensity of natural disasters ramps up globally, Balog finds himself at the end of his tether. Battling untested technology in subzero conditions, he comes face to face with his own mortality. It takes years for Balog to see the fruits of his labor. His hauntingly beautiful videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate. Chasing Ice depicts a photographer trying to deliver evidence and hope to our carbon-powered planet.

This film is ideal for outdoor adventurists. It focusses perhaps too strongly on the technical aspects of film and photography and can feel too much like an advertisement for North Face or Nikon, however, the last 10 minutes of the shoot are very impressive, if not too late.

70 minutes extras:

- 'Before My Time' Academy Award Nominated Song

- Film Festival Q&As

- Glacier Watching

- Sundance Experience

- Testimonials: 'Audience members and students reflect on their viewing experience'

- Time Now: From James Balog s Lecture Tour

- Updated Science 'Dr. Tad Pfeffer Glaciologist at the University of Colorado On the Latest Updates in Glaciolog

"Chasing Ice“ treats an important environmental issue: the substantial loss of Arctic sea ice due to climate change.

In terms of content and scientific aspects, "Chasing Ice“ doesn’t stand out: the film is based on a moderate journalistic performance and research, the interviews are not extraordinary. In addition to that, the film lacks taking into account different views on the issue and doesn’t draw connections to our daily lives. The film neither offers solutions or positive examples nor does it present and explain facts and correlations sufficiently.

Nevertheless, "Chasing Ice“ is a touching film that allows to gain a planetary perspective and creates respect and appreciation for our natural environment. The film shows how an individual is sticking to his objectives despite many difficulties and obstacles and how he reaches other people with his commitment. Unfortunately, the film does not really encourage the viewers to take action.

"Chasing Ice“ stands out because of its technical performance: unique and breathtaking pictures and a beautiful soundtrack captivate the viewers. The film editing is remarkable and it is easy to follow the plot.

Director(s): Jeff Orlowski
Script: Mark Monroe
Production: Jeff Orlowski, EuroVideo Medien GmbH, Paula DuPre’ Pesmen, Jerry Aronson
Music: Joshua Ralph
Actors: Louie Psihoyos, Jeff Orlowski, James Balog, Svavar Jonatansson, Sylvia Earle, Jason Box, Svavar Jónatansson, Kitty Boone, Dennis Dimick, Adam Lewinter, Tad Pfeffer, Suzanne Balog, Synte Peacock, Terry Root, Thomas Swetnem, Peter Hoeppe, Gerald Meehl, Emily Balog, Martin Nøoregaard, Simone Balog, R. James Woolsey, Martin Sharp, Richard Ward
Year: 2012
Duration: 75 min
Picture format: 16:9
Our age recommendation: 12
Language (audio): English
Language (subtitles): German
Country of origin: United States
Shooting Locations: United States, Greenland, Iceland
Screening rights: Spot on Distribution (Switzerland) | NFP (Germany, Austria) | Dogwoof (United Kingdom)

Further reviews


Main topic(s): Climate
Secondary topics: climate art courage
Mentions: climate ice arctic photography stop motion time lapse
Topic Page(s): Climate Frontpage Cover Slider


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Scientific & journalistic quality

Transfer of a momentum

Picture, music, craftsmanship

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