A breathtaking and offensive documentary in the vein of Werner Herzog’s Lessons of Darkness (1992), Victor Kossakovsky’s film about floods, melting ice caps, and extreme weather also continues a recent trend of nonfiction features (Behemoth, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch) that find visual beauty in environmental crisis. Kossakovsky presents scenes of scientific crews working on the tenuous frozen surface of Russia’s Lake Baikal, arctic ice mountains breaking apart, and Hurricane Irma ravaging Miami, forgoing narration or talking heads that might explain these phenomena. The movie is essentially an art-house spectacle, with handsome big-screen imagery and a heavy-metal score (by Eicca Toppinen of the band Apocalyptica) that makes a considerable visceral impact. Yet apart from some vague ideas about the power of nature, Kossakovsky doesn’t communicate anything one can really think about—he seems to be inviting viewers to sit back and enjoy the devastation of our planet. In English and subtitled Russian and Spanish.
PG • 1 hour 29 min • 2018