Nature may be unpredictable, chaotic, and dangerous, but unfortunately, its purity is disappearing, and its life is feeling the brunt of our wrongdoing. Thankfully, though, there are photographers who are willing to put their lives at stake to capture and display its true beauty, in order to preserve what is being lost. This week in our Virtual Movie Palace, we hit the road to the Arctic with photographer Amos Nachoum and his crew to swim with the Polar Bears in their declining habitat. From Directors Yonatan Nir and Dani Menkin, PICTURE OF HIS LIFE opens today in our Virtual Movie Palace.
You may not be aware of Amos Nachoum, but he is known by many as “one of the greatest underwater photographers of all time.” Born in Israel and a veteran of the nation’s Elite Commando military unit, he has travelled the globe and seen the world in its most violent, unpredictable forms. His time in the service, the film’s subjects theorize is why he is able and willing to swim with Earth’s most violent predators, second to “man”, as you will see he has observed Nile Crocodiles, Great White Sharks, Anacondas, and Orcas up-close and in their natural habitat. But in this documentary those endeavors are merely backstory to his mission to swim with Polar Bears in the wild and photograph them from underwater, something that no other photographer has done, and an endeavor that almost killed him once before.
Rather than continuing to tell you about the film, a better way to convince you of its beauty is to let his photographs speak for themselves. You can visit https://amosphotography.com/ to find his complete gallery.
Though I mentioned that photographers like Amos Nachoum are important because they capture the delicate nature of our environment in its purest form, I wouldn’t necessarily call A PICTURE OF HIS LIFE a film that calls for any kind of climate-related action. It is rather a story that focuses on Nachoum’s mission to capture an image he has coveted for his entire professional career. As we are given his backstory, and learn about his time in the military, his relationship with his family, and how he has given up a personal life entirely to focus on his work, you find yourself invested in this mission with hope and anticipation that he finds the success he yearns for.
Nevertheless, if you observe the surroundings of Nachoum’s team you will see the climate crisis is evident. When you picture an expedition to the Arctic, you may think of a team in parkas and heavy gear, not college sweatshirts and Pittsburgh Penguin apparel as you will see. Because in the background, where there were once snowy mountains, there is bare rock and stone. And you must also understand why, when they first come across a polar bear hunting for food, it is searching in the deep waters over a mile off the coastline. It’s these acts of desperation that have caused their population to dwindle, and why they are so aggressive to humans that come near.
Though it’s not necessarily discussed at length in the film, in Nachoum’s bio on his website, it describes his mission to photograph underwater wildlife, to “bring attention to the most fragile regions of the underwater realm with preservation of the environment foremost in his mind.” So enjoy the time you spend on his mission, but don’t forget the real quest that he is on to save the creatures he so desires to capture. If you enjoy it and are looking for other nature documentaries, I recommend Blue Planet, Planet Earth, and Our Planet on Netflix, and Jane on Disney + (or any of the other terrific documentaries from National Geographic). Let us know what you think and have a great weekend!