In Ice People, documentary filmmaker Anne Aghion follows research geologists Dr. Allan Ashworth and Dr. Adam Lewis for months in Antarctica, as they toil tirelessly, picking their way across the frozen continent's interior dry valleys, looking for indications of how the area's climate changed over the eons.
When it comes to adventurous lifestyles, Ashworth and Lewis are at the extreme. Isolated in a place where few humans have ventured, and lodged in a tent with only the bare necessities, they set out each day to explore inch by inch another acre of uncharted territory. They risk the inhospitable weather and other hazards while they apply their keen skills of observation and penetrating scientific knowledge to all the terrain that they cover so painstakingly.
They are information hunters, searching for evidence that they'll recognize only when they come face to face with it in rock outcroppings that to other, less insightful eyes would lack much information.
They're not at all sure that they will find any meaningful evidence. As they search, curiosity and frustration are their constant companions, and they are sometimes visited by a bit of ennui or tedium, too.
As a filmmaker, Aghion is as observant about them as they are observant about the environment. As she records their daily routine, she finds the drama in its nuances.
Eventually team Ashworth and Lewis does discover -- in a wondrous moment that Aghion actually captures on film -- a small number of plant and animal fossils that prove beyond any doubt that the forbidding ice shelf that now sits at the bottom of the world was once a green region that supported flora and fauna in abundance.
At the time of the discovery of the fossils, news reports in The Associated Press and The Telegraph (UK) declared that the Ashworth and Lewis finds were significant in helping to determine the causes and effects of climate change, including those pertaining to our current situation of global warming -- which, as they point out, is actually the reversal of the big freeze that created Antarctica's ice shelf some 14-million years ago.
Aghion's Ice People was released in 2007. but climate change and global warming are topics that are still quite frequently in the news, and they are the subject of documentaries presently playing in theaters.
With the current release of the highly acclaimed documentaries Chasing Ice and The Island President drawing attention to the veracity and impact of global warming, the DVD release of Aghion's Ice People is timely indeed. It is a fascinating, highly recommended documentary that is now available on DVD.
(PHOTO: 'Ice People' Poster Art. Courtesy Anne Aghion).