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Awareness of Climate Change and Marine Welfare as Main Goal of ‘Chasing Ice’ and ‘Our Planet’

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Documentative films provide evidentiary support on information from visuals and language that are factually based on real events or individual subjects. The cognizant awareness of climate change is increasing substantially both locally and universally, with science providing evidence of the increasing temperature, melting glaciers and ice caps, and dramatic biological temperature changes within rainforests and deserts. Biopic documentaries are considered lucrative forms of publication to promote climate change. The main focal points include the impact of climate change on animals and geographical changes, both on land and at sea. Multiple documentaries are conducted in this field however, two leading documentaries in this area are ‘Chasing Ice’ directed by Jeff Orlowski, and ‘Our Planet’, directed by Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey. ‘Chasing Ice’, released in 2012, is recorded in Greenland and Antarctica, exposing the melting of glaciers and ice caps within months due to extreme climate change. In comparison, ‘Our Planet’ is a more technologically advanced documentary since it was released in 2019. It is also based in Antarctica and on the island of Georgia. He talks about climate change and how it affects the well-being of the sea. So, the creators of ‘Chasing Ice’ and ‘Our Planet’ use a variety of methods to bring attention to climate change by raising awareness and influencing responses to the key idea of climate change and animal welfare.

Global warming publicity has become progressively popular in the 21st century as the earth has drastically changed in the last twenty years, through the melting of ice caps and diminution of glaciers. Global warming has become a prominent publicized factor in the last couple of years, and documentaries surrounding the factors have been created to spread important perspectives concerning global warming, ‘Chasing Ice’ and ‘Our Planet’, have intelligently and famously depicted the calamities of global warming for marine life and geographical malformities. ‘Chasing Ice’, directed by Jeff Orlowski, and acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog set off into the Arctic on a challenging mission for National Geographic to capture images that will help tell the story of Earth's climate change. ‘Chasing Ice’ is the story of one man's mission to change the course of history by gathering irrefutable evidence that our planet is changing. A few months after Balogh's first trip to Iceland, the photographer conceived the most daring expedition of his life: extreme ice research. With a band of young adventurers in tow, Balog began deploying revolutionary time-lapse cameras across the brutal Arctic to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers. The documentary provides the viewers with insights into what is happening to ice glaciers, and the global impact that human emissions have on the planet. Moreover, ‘Our Planet’, directed by Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, is an eight-piece epic miniseries exploring the world’s ecosystems, from frozen tundras to scorching deserts, and focuses on humans’ global impact. The audiences are treated to stunning cinematography on aquatic animals and the troubles from global warming. ‘Our Planet’, demonstrating to the audience that wildlife numbers have declined by 60% and as the human population continues to rise around the planet, this is starting to have a profound impact on our delicately balanced eco-system. In contrast, ‘Chasing Ice’ and ‘Our Planet’ intentionally exhibit global warming and the impacts on marine life within the planet.

Within ‘Chasing Ice’ and ‘Our Planet’, foreshadowing and narration enhance both documentaries, presenting incisive information and perspectives. This is demonstrated in ‘Chasing Ice’ when the opening scene displays various news segments on the debates of global warming, followed by Balog’s narration explaining: “There is this limitless universal forms out there, that is just surreal; worldly! Sculptural, architectural! Insanely beautiful, and that’s when I thought the story is in the ice”. Through this voiceover, the documentary is sublimely foreshadowed into the storyline, as the audience is given a depiction of what visual stimuli are to come, with stunning still-shots and montages of engaging photos grasping the audience’s attention. Within this initial scene of ‘Chasing Ice’, the audience is treated to a diverse range of camera shots and angles of glaciers and ice blocks, these include aerial-shots, tracking-shots, and close-ups. Suddenly, the film cuts black, then displaying Balog taking photographs saying “I just have to get this picture”. This coinciding with various pictures of glaciers. Eventually, the scene cuts to various photos of Balog’s childhood with his voiceover explaining, “I never wanted to be a scientist, however, I began taking photos of wildlife to promote animal rights, then I did a couple of years research on the climate change, and the only thing I found interesting and incredibly undocumented was ice”. This literary technique of foreshadowing represents Balog's journey to discovering the science of global warming and his journey to documenting climate change, thus foreshadowing the documentary about his discovery. Similarly, in ‘Our Planet’, Sir David Attenborough's narration has coincided with a shot of different landscapes, which he explains: “This series will celebrate the natural wonders that remain and reveal what we must preserve so people and nature thrive”. Parallel to ‘Chasing Ice’, Balogh's dialogue, as well as Attenborough from ‘Our Planet’, can shape audience responses to global warming and animal welfare. These foreboding and voice-over techniques demonstrated in the documentaries demonstrate the brilliant work of the filmmakers to show the audience the far-reaching problem of global warming.

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Documented in both films, interviews establish a diversity of perspectives, displaying various influential responses to climate change, and the causes of global warming. Each documentary has an unseen interviewer who poses questions to several scientists on global warming and thus, the audience can reflect on the expert's key responses validity. In ‘Chasing Ice’, Orlowski uses interviews with Balog and various other scientists to further add depth to the idea of climate change. This is highlighted when Balog is interviewed by an unknown source stating “twenty years ago I was a skeptic about climate change, I thought it was based on computer models, and hyperboles that were turning this into an activist cause, and but most importantly I didn’t think humans were capable of changing the basic physics and chemistry of this entire huge planet”. Balog further exclaims: “It didn’t seem probable or possible”. Accordingly, the use of interviews establishes perspective and science, this is also prominent within ‘Our Planet’ as in an interview conducted with Attenborough, where he states that the polar regions of our planet may seem out of reach for most of us, but they are not beyond our influence and that we are inadvertently changing this frozen world. This documentary technique used by Fothergill, Scholey, and Orlowski through interviews further promotes the idea of the seriousness of climate change so that the audience can interpret and respond to confirm the climate change issue at hand. These interviews create subliminal ideas in the audience about the climate change argument being made, thus creating concern and empathy in the audience for the ecosystem and wildlife. In ‘Chasing Ice’, interviews are calculated and concise, for example, when Balog explains and depicts various factors causing the extremes of climate change, he uses a metaphor to further support his argument, stating, “If you had an abscess in your tooth, would you keep going to your dentist after dentist, until you found a dentist to fix the problem, or would you pull it out? Because all the other dentists have guided you so?”. And he further adds, exasperated: “That’s what we are doing with climate change, people are still arguing about this! For centuries!”, “We don’t have time, we don’t have time to save this planet!”. This technique of incorporating a metaphor into the interview, further develops empathy in the audience because he uses a rhetorical question. In comparison, ‘Our Planet’ also takes a concise approach through interviews with scientists, as Attenborough presents information through visuals and diagrams as the scientists make their case. Both ‘Chasing Ice’ and ‘Our Planet’ use experienced scientists to present and compare the arguments put forward for climate change, and to provide evidentiary support for the climate change argument.

Through various scenes, Fothergill, Scholey, and Orlowski utilise the technique of non-diegetic music to influence multiple responses and enthrall the audience. This is extremely evident in both films as they use the ambient noise of silence to overstate Balog and Attenborough’s melancholy voices. This is exhibited in ‘Chasing Ice’, as throughout the scene where evident glaciers have depleted in size, there is no music; only silence. This technique was brilliantly used to demonstrate the fear and trepidation of climate change. Later within the scene, a cacophony of cello’s play, creating a disconsolate mood within the audience. Comparatively, ‘Our Planet’ rather uses the diegetic sounds of animals like polar bears calls and seals wails, as well as various animalia calls. This technique shapes the audiences’ responses towards wildlife and the ecosystem they inhabit. However, multiple scenes cut to disturbing images of dying animals, due to the deteriorating ecosystem display a loud melody of depressing non-diegetic music to further validate the global stress of climate change, as well, the directors use the sound effect of guitar strings being cut, creating an uncomfortable sound for viewers. Furthermore, this sound is foreshadowed, as at the final twinge of the guitar string reveals shocking cinematography of a falling ice glacier and crushing innocent seals. Moreover, within both ‘Chasing Ice’ and ‘Our Planet’ inspirational non-diegetic music is conveyed throughout to bring further awareness of climate change and the effected wildlife to the viewers. This is evident in ‘Chasing Ice’ as the instrumental and vocal for the song ‘Yesterday’ by the Beatles is overlaid within the most confronting scenes of the glaciers’ depletion. This iconic ballad encourages the audiences’ emotions as the song is sombre, along with John Lennon’s tenor, further confronts the issue, striking supreme value within the hearts of the audience. The variety of examples provided, demonstrate the directors use of non-diegetic music and diegetic sounds to influence key responses on the events on climate change.

In comparison, both films focus mainly around the same idea of climate change, however, ‘Our Planet’ is more involved with animal welfare. Although the production of each documentary spans seven years apart, both films deconstruct the ultimate posed question of climate change. As both ‘Chasing Ice’ and ‘Our Planet’ challenge the documentation and scientific analyses, to further embed the idea and truth of climate change. ‘Chasing Ice’, fundamentally, treks the story of James Balog and his discovery and evidence of melting ice caps and glaciers. In doing so, Balog released anger and frustration into the target audience. Furthermore, the documentary also exhibits Balog’s discovery in the importance of maintaining the geographical cold ecosystem, to ensure marine welfare. Thus, similarly, ‘Our Planet’ also conveys the importance of marine welfare, through archival footage of marine life. ‘Our Planet’ is posed to be more effective as it explores animal welfare more prominently compared to ‘Chasing Ice’. ‘Our Planet’ details the importance of the preservation of marine life ecosystem, to provoke action within audiences to promote and assist the cause of climate change. Although both ‘Chasing Ice’ and ‘Our Planet’ both convey the message of climate change and marine welfare differently, both achieve the ultimate goal of spreading awareness of both causes.

Both ‘Chasing Ice’ and ‘Our Planet’ documentative films encourage the audiences to acknowledge and concede the issue of climate change and the effect on marine life, thus, being consciously aware of the impact they have on climate change and practices they can do to avoid supporting the cause of climate change. As the documentaries use persuasive cinematic techniques to depict the consequences of climate change and the failing global ecosystems. Conclusively, each film is fundamentally important as both, ‘Chasing Ice’ and ‘Our Planet’ convey and inspire audiences on a journey of discovery, through climate change and marine welfare.

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Awareness of Climate Change and Marine Welfare as Main Goal of ‘Chasing Ice’ and ‘Our Planet’. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from
“Awareness of Climate Change and Marine Welfare as Main Goal of ‘Chasing Ice’ and ‘Our Planet’.” Edubirdie, 15 Dec. 2022,
Awareness of Climate Change and Marine Welfare as Main Goal of ‘Chasing Ice’ and ‘Our Planet’. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 Nov. 2023].
Awareness of Climate Change and Marine Welfare as Main Goal of ‘Chasing Ice’ and ‘Our Planet’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 15 [cited 2023 Nov 30]. Available from:
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