Review

The White Planet

A spectacular look at a unique and hostile environment

The White Planet

The White Planet: trailer

Product details

Product name: The White Planet

Reviewer: Kate Arneman

Size: 86 minutes

G Rating:

4

A lone polar bear makes her way across a disintegrating ice floe, a laborious process, each footfall precarious.

Although The White Planet is not a film about climate change per se, it's hard to overlook the warning signs of the consequences of global warming for Arctic wildlife.

The focus of this impressive documentary, however, is the abundance and variety of life that exists in the formidable environment of the North Pole, from the iconic - polar bears and seals - to the unexpected - transparent plankton known as Arctic Angels and narwhals, with their spear-like tusks.

The technical challenges of shooting a film in such conditions are mind-boggling - three crews were flown to different locations in the Arctic region where they slept in tents.

It took three years of intermittent shooting to gather enough footage to portray a full cycle of the seasons in the film.

What we end up with is a series of vignettes, one of the most memorable being the birth of two polar bear cubs in an ice den.

Those taking younger viewers should consider that the filmmakers don't shy away from showing cute, fluffy animals doing decidedly un-Disney things: the polar bear cubs whose birth we have witnessed appear later in the film devouring the carcass of a seal pup, their white fur smeared with gore.

My only gripe with The White Planet is the pompous narration that unfortunately seems synonymous with this genre of documentary.

I would have enjoyed the film more minus the clichéd voiceover, with only the evocative and far less intrusive soundtrack to accompany the visuals.

Composed by Frenchman Bruno Coulais, working closely with Inuit singers Elisapi and Joarane, the ethereal music is perfectly matched with the brittle beauty of the environment.

The distribution of The White Planet in Australia by Madman Cinema is carbon neutral, thanks to carbon offsetting company Easy Being Green.

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