Chasing Ice | Chicago Reader

Chasing Ice

The central figure in this environmental documentary is National Geographic photographer James Balog, whose time-lapse documentation of shrinking glaciers has provided a jolt of unimpeachable visual evidence to a debate that should be over already. Director Jeff Orlowski trails Balog and his assistants as they conduct the Extreme Ice Survey, a three-year project to record glacier retreat with 25 digital cameras installed at remote vantage points in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, and Montana. At the same time, Balog struggles to overcome a knee surgery that threatens to sideline him from the strenuous hiking and climbing the mission requires. The personal story and the monumental issue of climate change don't coalesce into a great film—this plays more like programming for the Geographic cable channel—but you couldn't ask for a more dramatic moment than the climactic sequence, in which a glacier section the size of lower Manhattan "calves," or breaks off into the ocean. You'll be seeing that water later, in your front yard.



  • Jeff Orlowski


  • Jerry Aronson
  • Paula Pesmen
  • Jeff Orlowski

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