Runtime: 83 Minutes
Director: Scott Ressler
By Tom Moore
Touching on a unique side of the effects climate change has on the Arctic, “The Last Ice” delves into a voice and community greatly affected by this issue that’s often not heard — that of the Inuit.
The directorial debut of cinematographer Scott Ressler, “The Last Ice” adds a deeply human element to the conversations around climate change and colonization by focusing on how the Inuit have taken a heavy toll throughout different generations. Most of what people hear about how climate change affects the Arctic generally focuses on the animals and species that are becoming extinct as a result of the ice melting and not reforming over time. However, there’s a deeper struggle within the Inuit community that affects their livelihood and basically makes their culture go extinct.
“The Last Ice” is a devastating depiction of the effects of climate change as an Inuit hunter attempts to walk across pieces of ice scattered across the frigid sea, then watches the ice crack.
Frankly, it’s hard to say what’s more horrifying: the struggles the Inuit face through climate change or the destruction their community has faced from colonization. Because the Inuit community thrives mostly by hunting, every impact that climate change has on the Arctic animal life equally affects them. Animal migration patterns change, species slowly become extinct, and the icy floor below them starts to crack. This is a community slowly being damaged, and Ressler makes it apparent both through interviews about hunting and the unbelievably gorgeous cinematography.
Ressler captures the Northern Arctic like never before as he makes the freezing tundra oddly warm with the charismatic personality of the Inuit. “The Last Ice” is a devastating depiction of the effects of climate change as an Inuit hunter attempts to walk across pieces of ice scattered across the frigid sea, then watches the ice crack. One of the film’s main interviewees, Aleq, describes how the old Inuit hunting grounds that their ancestors used have now melted away, lost at sea. The shots of polar bears and seals looking lost as they watch the snowy world around them disappear is more than enough to bring a tear to your eye.
Yet even though “The Last Ice” is an emotional and effective look at climate change, the film also delves into how colonization has deeply affected the Inuit and impacted their culture for generations. Through archived footage from the 1950s, the film establishes how the Inuit, often referred to as Eskimos, were viewed by outsiders. They were mistakenly and discriminatorily seen as simple savages and looked down upon just because they enjoyed and thrived in conditions that many white communities and countries would see as a death zone. However, through great interviews, “The Last Ice” also paints the Inuit in a more genuine light. They really are a community fighting to preserve their culture and livelihood that’s been ripped away from them.
It’s legitimately disturbing to see how a generation of Inuit children were forcibly taken from their parents and placed into English schools, essentially to make them white. This divided generations, causing a constant fight for the Inuit to try and preserve their culture and regain the values and tradition that were stripped away. Even worse, the film shows how their land has been ravaged by oil companies and traders that see the Arctic as “unclaimed” land rich with resources.
“The Last Ice” adds a deeply human element to the conversations around climate change and colonization by focusing on how the Inuit have taken a heavy toll throughout different generations.
Ressler never shows the Inuit as weak, desperate, or incapable, though. The film leaves viewers on an inspirational and emotionally resonating note with how it depicts the Inuit fighting for their rights. From interviews and archived footage of Canadian politician and Inuit rights leader John Amagoalik to showcasing how the Inuit hunting traditions and culture are still being taught, there’s a strong sense of hope thriving within this community that’s genuinely touching. While they still face the same issues they’ve faced for decades, the film counteracts the weak persona that had labeled them in the past, instead showing them as an inspirational force for change that others should recognize.
“The Last Ice” is an important call for attention and action that displays the impact of climate change and colonization through the story of the Inuit community. It’s an absolute must-see that fleshes out heartbreaking truths as well as inspirational forces for change that will instantly grip your heart and stay within your thoughts well after viewing.