La Glace et le Ciel (The Ice and the Sky)
Showing incredibly beautiful nature shots, cut together with eclectic archive material from seven decades, this year’s closing film at Cannes is a documentary feature and more than anything a biopic. La Glace et le Ciel movingly explores the Antarctic, illustrates climate change, explains glaciology to amateurs, and bows before nature’s graceful balance and the dangers it faces by focusing on the extraordinary life of Claude Lorius, 82, glaciologist and veteran explorer, whose history of polar expeditions and climate research has yielded predictions that are evidentially true.
Luc Jacquet’s (March of the Penguins) engaging film follows Lorius’ biography, from his first missions to the Antarctic in the 1950s to late honours praising his contribution to science – last of which this movie and its screening in Cannes. With the help of stunning film material, some of it previously undisclosed, La Glace et le Ciel starts with Lorius’ first mission and shows men fighting their way through snow storms and permanent ice at freezing temperatures, using only unsophisticated equipment. They spent four weeks in the cabin of a snow truck at -18° C and finally reached the polar station, where Lorius and two others would stay for a year, surviving without any privacy, through camaraderie, solidarity and the “ban of bad moods”.
The audience is given an understanding of the passion of a man who set out on 22 polar missions, where Lorius is quoted saying “-25°C without wind felt like a heat wave”. He invented new ways of analysing ice cores and captured air pockets from up to 400.000 years ago, reconstructing the history of the world’s climate and ultimately man’s fatal impact on it. Lorius and his team could even identify atomic detonations thousands of kilometres away via radioactive particles that travelled through the high atmosphere: “The signature of humanity in this vast wilderness”. One difficulty the viewer might have with this film is the infotainment question. Why does a documentary film have to have a soundtrack that is so full of pathos? In this light, La Glace et le Ciel reconstructs real life like Titanic did.
La Glace et le Ciel (The Ice and the Sky) does not yet have a UK release date.
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Watch the trailer (VF) of La Glace et le Ciel (The Ice and the Sky) here: