The reality of climate change came to the big screen in an entrancing and devastating documentary at the Sundance Film Festival this year, Chasing Ice. National Geographic photographer, James Balog, and his team capture the disappearance of the planet’s Arctic glaciers through stunning time-lapse photography that is simultaneously beautiful and deeply depressing. It’s no wonder that this film won the Excellence in Cinematography for Documentary Films Award.

The Players:

  • Director/Cinematographer: Jeff Orlowski
  • Screenwriter: Mark Monroe


In 2005, James Balog set out to perform the Extreme Ice Survey: a mission to deliver evidence of the severity of the changes to the earth’s climate. Traversing the globe, he and his team installed cameras on icy tundras and frozen mountain tops as a quasi surveillance system for glaciers, taking hundreds of thousands of photos over the course of many years. The result: time-lapse footage of a landscape changing faster than anyone could have imagined.

The Good:

Both people who are skeptics about climate change and those who are not should see this film. It brings home the reality of what is currently happening to the planet– things that have serious consequences for all of us no matter what we believe. The visuals are truly breathtaking and will keep you enthralled.

The Bad:

I’m not sure this should be a feature-length film. The most stunning imagery and the message could have been delivered in about half the time. The film goes into James Balog’s personal journey, which, though moving, wasn’t necessary to get the point across that we are running out of time with our planet.

In terms of this message getting out and doing the most good it can do, I wonder if a condensation of the most moving footage of the glaciers changing, shouldn’t be made available for free to the public. In that way, my guess is that it would be more likely to reach a broader audience, while also more easily  informing the research and findings of climate change scientists.


This is an important film with major implications both scientifically and socially. It delivers some ground-breaking evidence about the dire situation our planet is in, and I am sure that it will continue to inform the dialogue about climate change.

Rating: 7.5/10