Film review: Antarctica: A Year on Ice

A still from the film.
A still from the film.
Icy magic captured in this stunning documentary, writes Mark Orton.

Antarctica: A Year on Ice
: Anthony Powell
Rating: (E)
5 stars (out of 5)

When Anthony Powell first went to the Antarctic as a satellite communications technician, he probably figured it would be a great opportunity to indulge his passion for stills photography.

So to find himself some 10 years later with such an inspiring record of his time there is a testament to not only his keen eye and ingenuity, but a dogged persistence that we should all be thankful for.

Powell has done what so many other portraits of the frozen planet have failed to do; he gives us something that we (and he) will never be able to physically see.

That is, vast periods of time compressed into smaller periods of time; illuminating the magnificence of movement, light and extreme shifts in climate.

Though to say Antarctica: A Year on Ice is simply a vehicle for Powell's extraordinary time-lapse photography would be a little disingenuous.

What makes this film resonate so much is the pacing.

Rather than go for the jugular with the crazy amount of awesome images that are surely at their disposal, Powell and his editor have realised that for maximum impact, the audience needs time to absorb the magnitude of the visuals.

What better way to do that than to hear from the quirky characters working there.

It is Powell's knowledge of seasonal events, subtle fluctuations, and his co-workers' characters that give him the latitude to try things.

The world needs film-makers like Anthony Powell, someone alive enough to realise what a special opportunity they have been given, and then let the rest of us share it with them in the best possible way.

Best thing: Getting to see this in a cinema with a big screen and great sound.

Worst thing:  Realising that for many of us, this is the closest we'll get.

See it with: A warm coat.


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