Monday, December 24, 2012

Movies: Icy Journeys

Rustavi - A snowy day

Am still on a journey movie thing.

Here's a spate of movies about journeys into really cold places.

Arctic Extreme: 118 Days in the Captivity of Ice. This was one hour of scary tension. A polar bear shoving his head into your tent! Not knowing if or when the ice was going to break and plunge you into the depths of frigid water! Hearing the omnipresent rending and grinding of ice all around you! Carrying supremely heavy loads over craggy, unforgiving shards of hard snow. It's stressful just writing about it. Story: A group of Slovakian and Russian men cross the North Pole by walking from Russia to Canada without any external support en route. I liked how the narrator and photographer were able to illuminate the hardship and chronic fear experienced by the team in an understated manner. If there was ever conflict among the team members, that went unmentioned.  I contrast this with the prima donna behavior exhibited by one of the principals in another long-journey movie, Running the Sahara.  

The Greely Expedition. PBS summarizes the movie right nicely: "In 1881, 25 men led by Adolphus Greely set sail from Newfoundland to Lady Franklin Bay in the high Arctic, where they planned to collect a wealth of scientific data from a vast area of the world’s surface that had been described as a "sheer blank." Three years later, only six survivors returned, with a daunting story of shipwreck, starvation, mutiny and cannibalism. The film reveals how poor planning, personality clashes, questionable decisions and pure bad luck conspired to turn a noble scientific mission into a human tragedy." A subtext of this documentary was how the adversity "made" some of the men and brought out the worst in others. It was also the story of how low the leader sank in his behavior, becoming an object of his men's contempt, only to have the opportunity to rehabilitate himself later, earning their utmost respect.

Everest: IMAX. Stunning photography. Overwrought music. A Disneyfied view of Kathmandu.  An oddly detached accounting of the tragedy that occurred during the filming of this documentary, which told the story of a group of people climbing Mt. Everest. (Jon Krakauer's book on this event is excellent: Into Thin Air.) Overall impression of the documentary: Dull.


No comments: