Dede's Green Scene: To the Arctic 3D by Dede Tabak, May 14 2012, 0 Comments

Who doesn’t love a good summer movie? There’s one that just came out in IMAX theaters filled with action and adventure. It’ll make you laugh, cry and keep you on the edge of your seat. No, I’m not talking about “The Avengers”. I'm talking about “To the Arctic 3D”, the latest nature documentary directed by Greg MacGillivary, that shows the Arctic like never before. And who’s the villain in this movie? Well, it’s us. The Arctic is warming and it’s causing the ice to melt at a drastic pace, which is throwing off the delicate Arctic eco-system. The film shows us how vital the ice is for the survival of Arctic tribes and wildlife...and possibly our planet.

The film shows the Arctic in all its breathtaking glory. The landscape of glaciers, sea ice and glacial waterfalls on such a large scale is beautiful. Then Meryl Streep, who narrates, explains that although the waterfalls are a great sight, it is actually a sign of global warming, and a sign that time is slipping away from us to do something. The sea ice is an essential part of survival for the Arctic wildlife. Walruses need the sea ice as a resting platform and to go diving for clams and mollusks - they usually rest on the sea ice in between meals. But now, they have to dive further and for longer periods of time and come ashore instead. 

Walruses aren’t the only ones having a tough time adjusting to the warming climate. Caribous aren't faring well either. For the first time, filmmakers have documented the full journey of the spring migration of the caribou . During the spring migration, the caribou travel to the Arctic refuge, a hundred mile journey, to their calving grounds. With the melting ice, it's taking the caribou longer to reach their calving grounds, forcing the females to give birth during the migration. This makes the journey far more difficult for the mothers and their calves. 

The film’s main focus is on polar bears, which are having a very difficult time adjusting to the melting sea ice. They use the sea ice to hunt for seal, which is essential to their diet. Polar bears need to fatten up on seal meat in the winter in order to fast during the summer months when the sea ice melts. Now, with the Arctic having record breaking low sea ice formation, the polar bears have less time to hunt for seals, and are basically starving during the summer. Not to mention, that with the sea ice not forming as large as before, the polar bears have to swim even further to hunt. 

The filmmakers documented a mother and her two cubs swimming nine days without a break in search of food. Sadly, one of her cubs doesn't make it. Usually polar bears are shy and difficult to shoot, but MacGuillvary attempts to trick the polar bears by disguising the cameras as pieces of ice. One segment shows the polar bears curiously playing with the “ice camera” like a toy and banging it around until it breaks. Yet, despite this, the “To the Arctic 3D” team was extremely lucky. They were able to follow a mother and her two cubs for several days allowing the audience to feel how stressful it is to be a mother polar bear. 

Not only is the mother constantly trying to sniff out seal to feed her cubs, but she also has to protect her cubs from predators. Their main predators nowadays are actually male polar bears. With seal meat so hard to come by and the polar bears starving, male polar bears have taken to hunting polar bear cubs. The mother never sleeps; she is constantly alert trying to sniff out males and rushing her cubs to safety. There is one male that shows up a few times to grab a snack, and he almost gets one. The mother tries to get her cubs to safety, but there isn’t enough time. Instead of giving up easily, the mother turns around, looks the male straight in the eye and growls. Fortunately this time, the male retreats. 

“To the Arctic 3D” is an eye-opening film. We hear and read about how global warming is affecting the Arctic, but it is entirely different to actually see this change. Whether we like it or not, the sea ice is melting at a drastic rate and as the film mentions, we may not be able to stop it. We can, however, try and slow it down. The melting ice not only affects the Arctic wildlife and tribes, but the whole planet. If we don’t do something soon, the Arctic will be gone. I am not sure if it was the music of Paul McCartney that played throughout the film, but I left the movie theater with hope. Hope that the ending has not been written yet, that we could slow down the climate change and restore the delicate balance of the Arctic. Hope that the next documentary about the Arctic isn't a sad one, but one with a happy ending. 

To learn more about how you can help the Arctic click here!