Most movies about the Antarctic focus either on the place’s natural wonders or on those cute and cuddly penguins. Those things are present in Antarctica: A Year on Ice, but they’re far from the whole show. This documentary film is by Anthony Powell, a communications engineer from New Zealand who is based at McMurdo Station and is one of the fewer than 700 people who habitually spend the winter on the continent, braving 40-below temperatures, hurricane-force winds, and four months of uninterrupted darkness.
As much as he takes in the continent, he also focuses on his fellow winterers, who are not scientists but rather support staffers who keep the facilities maintained and ready for use when the science people come back in the summer. Powell documents the effects of cabin fever (one fireman reports feeling physical revulsion at the newcomers) and the activities that his colleagues engage in to stave off boredom, like the film festival where each nation’s base makes its own short film and screens it for the others. In addition, the movie offers time-lapsed photography of the movement of heavenly bodies across the sky and a breathtaking laser light show put on by the aurora australis, the Southern Lights. At the Modern this weekend, this movie gives you an idea what it’s like to live way down south.
Antarctica: A Year on Ice runs Fri-Sun at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth,
3200 Darnell St, FW. Tickets are $7-9.