Chasing Ice (12A) 80 mins ****
Jeff Orlowski’s documentary begins as straightforward biographical profile, before shifting up into something more urgent, impassioned and compelling. Its subject, James Balog, is a photographer who goes to extremes to prove the existence of global warming: his latest expedition involves descending Arctic cliff-faces to fit time-lapse cameras with which to monitor glacial erosion. Orlowski’s framing – interspersing field footage with talking heads – is somewhat conventional, but the images he and Balog have collated are consistently breathtaking, and accumulate real power. The cameras look on in vain as massive icesheets shear off, leaving once-mighty glaciers – characterised in the manner of the endangered species in Attenborough documentaries – to slump into the sea. Behind them, they leave nothing – save colossal insurance premiums for those areas subsequently flooded by displaced waters. If any film can convert the climate-change sceptics, Chasing Ice would be it: here, seeing really is believing.
Chasing Ice opens in selected cinemas from today.