Chasing Ice is a documentary that tells the story of James Barlog, a geologist turned photographer, and his Extreme Ice Survey project. Its purpose is to provide photographic evidence of global warming.

The documentary follows Barlog as he sets up around two dozen cameras to photograph glaciers with regular intervals. It chronicles the tribulations of getting the equipment to function in the extreme conditions and weaves it with the personal tale of Barlog himself, a man deeply passionate about the subject of global warming and the toll his exploits have and are taking on his body. The personal drama works to get you to relate to the issue without feeling manipulative.

The film is a very obviously politically charged look at the hotly contested issue but it couldn’t really be accused of being one-sided because the evidence that it presents, through years of photography of several glaciers around the world, what should be considered irrefutable evidence of humanities effect on the climate. A negative effect with potentially terrible repercussions . What the film does best is showing this in the easily understandable format of both still and time-lapse photography as well as making the viewer aware of the scale of the glacial regression that’s happening. The feeling of seeing a piece the size of lower Manhattan break off of a glacier is difficult to put into words.

Chasing Ice is chock full of breathtaking and majestic cinematography and photography that helps drive the point the film is trying to make home. It sends chills down your spine with shocking regularity and when it has shown its hand completely, revealing the whole situation and its implications you’re hard pressed not to be driven to tears.

Final Verdict: Chasing Ice is a powerful, though provoking documentary that shows without a doubt that humanity is having a negative impact on the world and dares you to take action. It proves that glaciers melting in the dead of night can be much more impactful than personal drama.

Keep up with our RIFF coverage here.

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