I saw it at Sundance a couple of days ago. I was enthralled by it and sad when it ended. The opening is narratively engaging, yes, with humans and story. That is fascinating, but the film really gets going when it get's past any promise of overall narrative, and begins with its true purpose: to offer a privileged window into the true awesomeness of the water on this planet. Frozen, still, turbulent, graceful, violent, beautiful, it is all there, painstakingly captured with top shelf equipment and cinematography. It is a cinematic poem and of visual glory, awe-inspiring power and incredible natural sounds, mixed and designed in Dolby Atmos surround. The sound is immersive in a way that no other film I have seen has been, and it invites one to surrender and sink into the film. It is not a narrative journey, but a visual and sensual one, that allows time and space to contemplate part of the world we live in, both in celebration and contemplation of human's impact. It is not an overtly environmentalist film, other than to remind us of the power and beauty of nature, and to show some of how we interact with it. There are moments where the film is scored, with Finnish heavy metal. This worked very well. I had the impression that power chords and distortion may be the only fitting texture to score images of such raw power as thousands of tons of turbulent waves of water. The visuals sometimes get abstract in a beautiful way that reminds me of the films of Stan Brakhage, specifically Mothlight and Window Water Baby Moving. Again, it invites one to just let it wash over you, and to enjoy the ride. I can't wait to see this film again, next time hopefully in true 96 fps, which I understand unlocks an entirely new visual experience. I fully expected an uproarious standing ovation at the end of the screening. I was surprised to hear an average reaction from the crowd. I think people need to approach film with more openness and patience, and not fall into the trap of judging it in the narrow context of "entertainment". This is a cinematic poem on an epic scale and I am so very grateful for its creation.
Water and ice are shown around the world, in all of their many powerful forms.
December 8, 2019