In “The Other Side of the Ice,” adventurer-documentarian Sprague Theobald, along with his formerly fractured, now-reunited family, sets out on a powerboat to navigate the Northwest Passage, a feat first accomplished in 1908, and one that has cost many explorers their lives before and since. As fabulous frozen landscapes inhabited by occasional whales, walruses and polar bears pass by, storylines are fueled by the Theobold clan’s endless self-analysis of family dynamics and fears for survival — expressed aboard ship and in present-day interviews on dry land. With its striking Arctic scenery, “Ice” is a gorgeous if overexplained armchair adventure.
Conscripting his son and stepchildren to serve as his sailing and film crew, and accompanied by a captain and cameraman outside the clan, Theobald sets sail. Complications ensue, including tension between stepdaughter Christine and her b.f., problems with the captain, and complaints about the cameraman’s intrusiveness. Characters constantly share their feelings, but the dramatic goings-on, largely narrated rather than directly shown, lack dynamism. The seascapes, however, continually astound. Fantastical ice sculptures give way to desolate, mountainous, end-of-the-world terrain broken only by white headstones marking the graves of those who didn’t make it.
The Other Side of the Ice
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(Documentary) Reviewed on DVD, New York, March 6, 2013. Running time: 77 MIN.
A Hole in the Wall production. Produced by Sprague Theobald, Hunter Steinman, Misha Spivack.
Directed by Sprague Theobald. Camera (color, HD), Ulli Bonnekamp, Peter Hobbs, Dominique Tanton, Chauncey Tanton, Sefton Theobald, Sprague Theobald, Hunter Steinman, Misha Spivack; editors, Steinman, Spivack; music, Josh Allen; underwater photography, Greg DeAscentis.
With: Sprague Theobald, Christine Tanton, Chauncey Tanton, Sefton Theobald, Clinton Bolton, Ulli Bonnekamp, Greg DeAscentis.