May 29, 2015

Antarctica: A Year On Ice

Anthony Powell, 2014
Antarctica is like Alaska to some of us. An unforgiving landscape, isolated, frigid. One of the last pure, natural territories. And yet, while it does seem like a rather uninviting place, there is something so fascinating about going there. Maybe its the adventurous nature to it. A continent at the bottom of our planet, very difficult to actually get to. In essence, logistically, it's like visiting another planet. Our technological advances have made it possible to stay there for an extended period of time. This documentary is about the people who do just that. These people, all employed by various countries and in a wide variety of positions, spend anywhere from a few months to years on "the ice" (as many of them call it). They basically live in airtight dwellings that resemble space stations. Their occupational duties consume most of their time, but there are gaps here and there where they can engage in recreational activities. With limited resources and restricted mobility, they have to work with what they have to pass the time. DVD's, Emails, reading,  conversation. There are periodic shipments of cargo to Antarctica that arrive in shipping containers that bring goods to everyone there. But its the little things that make this film interesting. What if you want a beer at the end of the day? Is it even possible to get a cold one in your hands? These types of things come up. Not so formally answered, but you do see an annual celebratory dinner event where multiple bottles of red wine fills the tables. We learn that no pets or children are allowed on the continent, so the whole living with your family is out of the question. How is the internet service you might ask? Well, it's there. But it's presumably satellite based, so probably not that good or reliable. You see that although they are completely removed from their families and friends, freezing their asses off, and heartsick over things we take for granted here (like avocados)... They are still happy to be there. So happy that many of them return season after season. It's a very fascinating piece of work filled with some stunning photography of the frozen continent and a lot of interesting people who are bold enough to venture to the bottom of the planet to spend some time there.

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