‘To the Arctic’ Taps Our Love for Mothers of All SpeciesPublished May 2, 2012
To the Arctic: Warner Bros.
The expanse of ice floes in Greg and Shawn MacGillivray’s IMAX documentary “To the Arctic” is so gorgeous, haunting, and alien, that you forget where you are.
You may even reach one hand lightly towards the screen.
The moment you really feel there, in the wild north, the camera takes you beneath the surface, where a graceful, formidable mother polar bear dances through the water with her cub. But the exhilaration of being this close, of seeing the way her soft fur ripples in the filtered light, soon turns to worry.
As she swims, the narrator (Meryl Streep) says the distance between the ice floes is growing.
The film never lets you linger long enough on any one scene. And while it might seem, at first, as if you’re on a tour with an over-eager guide, the story progresses and a larger theme takes shape: The animal families of the Arctic are subject to the constant, harrowing changes of a warming climate.
Polar Bear Habitat
Sea ice, a cracked, ever moving layer that allows sea lions and walruses to rest, and Polar Bears to get far enough out in the water to hunt them, is forming later and later every winter. There’s less of it and its thinner. And thanks to the dedicated crew of this film, who have been gathering shots for four years, you can see the effects, up close.
“One polar bear mother and her two cubs stayed next to our boat for almost a week,” says Greg MacGillivray. “We became so emotionally connected to this family, but when they were in danger we were scared for them and there was nothing we could do about it,” adds Shawn.
Danger came in the form of a hungry male polar bear. As marine life becomes less available to them, males are more likely to go after cubs of their own kind.
This mother holds it together with incredible skill, cunning and bravery.
Walrus mothers do the same, swimming farther out from their precious ice floes to gather food for their families. While caribou mothers must migrate through deeper waters as melting snow and ice makes river conditions swell.
Climate Change on Film
“When we thought of this project six years ago, we looked at satellite photos over the past 30 years and you can see the sea ice melting more and more, so we thought, ‘If we don’t start this project now, the Arctic could be a very different place five years from now,’” says Shawn.
Seeing this film isn’t just about experiencing a place you may not otherwise see, it’s about preserving a place that may not exist in the near future.
It’s something the filmmakers haven’t ignored. To the Arctic is part of a larger initiative called One World, One Ocean, a campaign running across theaters and museums all over the country to inspire people to take action against climate change and environmental degradation.
Learn more at oneworldoneocean.org.
Watch a featurette with Meryl Streep, here:
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