Antarctica - A Year on Ice
Antarctica may be the
single utopia left on Earth, as is pointed out early and smartly in this
look at the lives of the 700 people who annually spend an entire year in the
frigid and gorgeous landscape of the planet's least inhabited continent.
Politically, 30 different
nations share the continent and work in unity for scientific exploration and
cooperation. People from all areas of the planet go down to spend time in
the gorgeous vistas of Antarctica. There are a series of bases sprinkled
over the area of the landmass, and they all work together for the greater
good of the world.
A group of scientists and
workers go down annually – usually about 2,300 spend the summer on the
continent and only 700 stay an entire year round – and settle into a
strangely communal world that revolves around science, exploration and hard
Director Anthony Powell
is one of those workers, who has spent several years on Antarctica and
decided to chronicle the very different world that has developed amongst the
ice and the penguins.
Year on Ice explores life on the frigid continent
– from vital survival information to more simple but still important tips
like, "Don't mix up your water bottle and your pee bottle."
Some things are not
exactly looked into enough. For example the problems of climate change on
the continent are almost completely ignored here. No discussion of melting
glaciers, no exploration of how it is affecting the local wildlife, nor even
really any acknowledgement that it is a potential problem.
They also do not explain
all the rules of the settlements. A scene where a lost seal is dying in the
middle of a landmass is heartbreaking. The whole time the audience is
wondering why the hell the people filming the poor animal are not helping
it. However, the narrator say simply that the rules prohibit them
interfering with nature's course, without ever giving a clue of why. Yes, I
can see not recklessly interacting with the wildlife, but would it really be
such a crime to help the poor creature get back to water?
On a much more basic
level, the film only shows very few women on the base. How do the people
handle their social interactions in such a male-dominated world? Other than
a brief bit where the director gets married on base, romantic relationships
are pretty much ignored – blown off with this short saying about the quality
of dates for the way-outnumbered women of Antarctica: "The odds are good,
but the good are odd." Later, during the ending credits, one of the guys
offhandedly admits that they start off thinking about women, but quickly it
becomes so impossible to imagine that they start spending their time
fantasizing about food.
However, despite these
tiny flaws, the footage captured in Antarctica: A Year on Ice is so
stunningly beautiful that it is hard to get too concerned about any of the
film's small faults.
Despite the glowing words
in the film of the people who make their lives in Antarctica, the whole idea
of visiting Antarctica to live and work does not really personally appeal to
me at all. However, I am extremely grateful for the ability to visit such a
spectacularly scenic area from the relative safety and comfort of a theater.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2014 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: November 28, 2014.