This is a film you must see on the big screen. Trust me. That opening shot is going to mess up your head and make your jaw hang open. What looks like stones at the bottom of a river is revealed to be huge blocks of ice on the ocean between which a small boat is navigating. From this simple setting of the scene, this film drops us into a small community on St. Lawrence Island where the islanders struggle to survive. It’s a simple tale with images the like of which we’ve not see before.
This film is a stunner. It’s the sort of small scale human story that Hollywood spend millions on, you know those epic films of regular people in eye exploding places that are Oscar bait? With ONE WITH THE WHALE it’s real. We are in a spectacular looking place where people live.
And beyond the visuals we have a group of wonderful people. This portrait of a community is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. Shot as if we were one of the group we are pulled in and carried along. Life truly seems to be unfolding before us. Too often when watching similar films the camera and the crew seem to be slightly outside the action, we are not fully part of things. As good as Frederick Wiseman’s observational films are we are observing, we are not participating Directors Peter Chelkowski and Jim Wickens has us participating. It’s glorious since it makes everything that happens that much more involving - even when characters hug- we really feel it.
What an absolute joy.
This is a truly great film- you need to see this.