Friday, March 20, 2009

Film Fest: Jack Sparrow Lives

A good band of pirates will always kidnap the hearts of film lovers. From Errol Flynn to Johnny Depp, swashbucklers pack theaters. We know we shouldn’t, but we love mayhem on the high seas.

This documentary features environmental pirates chasing commercial pirates. It’s quite a chase —and quite a battle when they meet. At the Edge of the World is a riveting voyage.

Two ships set out for Antarctica with one mission: Stop the poaching of whales by Japanese hunters posing as researchers using whatever guerilla-style tactics it takes. The ships spend 50 grueling days and nights on the unforgiving, yet beautiful, Ross Sea searching for whales and illegal whalers. The filmmaker, Dan Stone, captures it all as they endure danger, loneliness, seasickness, brutal cold, icebergs, confrontation and perhaps some second thoughts about their mission.

And they should have doubts, the task is very dangerous and the results are difficult to measure. We (and they) spend time considering whether or not what they are doing is worth the danger. Are their tactics the best way to save whales?
This film does so many things so well. Gorgeous cinematography, much of it aerial, is used to show a rarely visited world. Questions are posed that are difficult to answer as we are put into the parkas and rubber boots of interesting people. I have little doubt that At the Edge of the World will captivate audiences and become one of the favorites at this year’s festival.

As you exit the theater, you might turn to your partner and ask about ends justifying the means, or the boundaries of justice. This crew of eco-warriors goes overboard – literally.

Go with them. — Bob Carson

At the Edge of the World. Friday, March 20, 6:45 p.m.; Saturday, March 21, 11:00 a.m. Antarctica, Australia, USA - 92 minutes

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