This is a rather obscure documentary that can be viewed on Vimeo, but one that deserves to be seen. The film follows a small team of people that prepare camp on Union Glacier in Antarctica. This camp will serve as base camp for numerous expeditions each year. It’s hard work, and the conditions are harder, but through it all they find a way to enjoy it.
The actual work of the team is interesting, but the real joy in this film is what they do the rest of the time. It’s like an episode of M*A*S*H that’s set in Antarctica and directed by Wes Anderson. I love Wes Anderson films, so my bias might be playing into why I enjoyed this film so much. Whether it’s the narration or the awkwardly long close ups of people, this film just oozes Anderson, but that’s a good thing. The feeling that Steve Zissou might show up anytime is great, but the people in this film are plenty interesting on their own. Some seem a bit off, like too much time living on the ice has taken its toll. But some just seem to genuinely love their jobs, and that’s rare and wonderful to see these days.
The world of the film is so bizarre and alien that it becomes a character itself. The sun never sets, white outs are frequent, and they heat their tents with jet fuel. Who lives like that? But they still have movie nights and birthday cakes. It’s a strange and beautiful life they live at the end of the world.
I know this seems odd, I’m reviewing a film that can be seen on Vimeo, not in theaters or video. But maybe that taps into the other reason I love this film. Just like the characters are making a home in the wilderness, so is this film. It’s been released by Studiocanoe, and can be watched for free online. I don’t say that to cheapen the film, like Antarctica itself, this film may be enhanced by the very freedom of accessibility it offers.
I cannot recommend this film enough. It’s fun, it’s gorgeous, and it touches on some serious topics. I hope you watch the film and enjoy Welcome to Union Glacier as much as I did.