Friday Flick: Arctic IV

“We’re trying to awaken the consciousness of the Canadian people to the fact that almost half their country lies underwater…” Dr. Joseph MacInnis and his team of deep-sea scientist-divers are on a frigid mission. This National Film Board documentary follows MacInnis, a specialist in underwater medicine, as he and his team launch a hazardous exploration of the polar depths at Resolute Bay and the North Pole. After painstakingly chipping through over two metres of ice with chainsaws and Inuit chisels, they dive (and lower a manned submersible) into the abyss, studying the awesome pressure ridges of the gargantuan polar ice pack.

At the time of the film’s release in 1975, under-ice diving (and filming) was in its infancy and extremely dangerous. This feature-length doc – yet another masterpiece from the NFB – offers a glimpse at the unknown and unstudied world that lay beneath the ice and records the first-ever deep dive in the high Arctic. It is a fascinating and beautifully filmed examination of the confluence of technology, science, exploration, environmental concerns, and indigenous cultures nearly 40 years ago.

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