Maybe you haven’t been exposed yet to the beauty and wonder that is Antarctica. Maybe you have and you’re always ready to drink in more of it. Cinematographer and director Anthony Powell knows how to capture the character of this most harsh and remote continent: sprawling glaciers, a 12,000 foot high volcano covered in white, sheer white cliffs, playful white shapes, deep fissures, and the iridescent Aurora Australis (the south pole’s equivalent to the north’s Aurora Borealis). Yes, there’s also some penguin pandering.
In “Antarctica: A Year on Ice” Powell peers across the vast white, vast blue, and for the months of the year when the sun never rises, the vast dark of Antarctica. Amongst Powell’s ample use of time-lapse video, sunrises and sunsets tickle above the horizon during transition weeks. As well, he helps you feel the cold, colder, and coldest.
What distinguishes Powell’s vision in producing this 10-year project is a healthy respect for the mundane. For that he focuses on people. Although several thousand people reside in Antarctica during summer, the number shrinks to about 700 who live there all winter. You’re likely some kind of odd to sign up for a job in Antarctica and odder once you’ve lived through long months of this bunkered little culture.
It’s a gig where most of the people do their workaday as store clerk, phone dispatch, forklift operator, and such. Nowhere-to-go time fills with introspection, crafts, games, holidays and other frivolities. Tolerance is prerequisite. Commonly, the so-called “polar T3” creeps in – no worries, just some forgetfulness, cognitive lapses, and mood swings.
There’s enough to hold your attention just viewing the expansive yet cloistered fact of Antarctica. Feeling that “Antarctica: A Year on Ice” is a fuller movie satisfaction depends on how much you get into the routine fact of Antarctica. Partially because the male-female split runs about 70-30, it’s a place where men stop talking about women and start talking about food. It’s also a place where filmmaker Anthony Powell met a woman and got married.