Blood Glacier (aka Blutgletscher and The Station) DVD Review
Directed by Marvin Kren
Written by Benjamin Hessler
2013, Rated PG-13, 98 minutes
Released theatrically and on VOD on May 2nd, 2014
Gerhard Liebmann as Janek
Edita Malovcic as Tanja
Brigitte Kren as Ministerin Bodicek
Santos as Tinnie
Janek (Gerhard Liebmann) has spent too long in the mountains; five years to the typical one year assignment at Research Base Glazius. Of the environment survey team, no one knows the mountain like him as the custodian/handyman/team drunk. So when Station 3’s remote equipment stops transmitting data, he is first to head up to the prominent glacier to determine the problem. What he finds there is beyond his wildest nightmares: an environmental disaster shaping the landscape and the local fauna for the worst. Add to this an impending ministerial site inspection, a surprise arrival of Janek’s lost love Tanja (Edita Malovcic), and a bloodthirsty ibex, and you’ve got a rough night on the mountain.
Blood Glacier begs a timely question: what will result from our destruction of the environment? Framed in the fantastic, its roots in reality are what make this film terrifying. Just two months ago, scientists unearthed “giant viruses” in the Siberian permafrost that killed single-celled organisms upon exposure. Even now this never-ending winter provides evidence that climate change is irreversible and increasing in its effects. And while it’s highly unlikely that a single-cell organism could “infect” and fertilize a host species with a freaky new hybrid parasite – especially when host and parasite have mismatched chromosome pairs, aka why a dog (39 pairs) and a cat (38 pairs) can’t make a cat-dog. Cog? – it’s impossible to rule out mutations as an outcome of radiation, pollution, and toxic runoff.
Some of the effects are less than spectacular, such as the “blood glacier” referenced in the title. It looks photoshopped it is so jarring. The animatronic dying fox, exposed to the unknown contaminant in the glacier, is as gracious as something from an original Disneyland ride. The ibex actually made me laugh despite its repulsive appearance. But for these technical faults, the symbolism behind that flora and fauna speaks volumes.
The ages of the leads versus supporting characters also seems to hint the responsibility of this disaster lies with those of us old enough to know better. The lead actors range from mid-thirties to sixties, while the three actors playing characters under thirty-five meet their deaths by gruesome means. Ministerin Bodicek (a brilliant Brigitte Kren), a powerful older woman, even vows she will save at least one person in the midst of this horror, but can’t keep her promise. The implications that we have damned the younger generations by our actions, leaving them to an abysmal fate by forces they cannot understand or control.
A heartfelt performance by Gerhard Liebmann as Janek, a rancorous man devoted to his faithful dog, balances out the melodramatic, formulaic moments dealing with his and Tanja’s failed romance and his feuds with the straight-laced scientists.
The only true issue I have with Blood Glacier is the very final sequence before Janek and Tanya escape their overrun camp. Tanja makes the choice to rescue a mutant creature from the wreckage; Janek was planning on killing it. The introduction of this option throws a wrench into the “save the planet” message. It’s a suggestion that rather than fighting the past we need to embrace our weird, uncertain future. It’s a message shared by many an environmentalist these days, but so incongruous with the other themes of the film, it left me bewildered as we fade out over glaciers coated in blood.
Still, Ministerin Bodicek is amazing. A badass kicking malformed-ibex ass, a compassionate woman caring for a wounded girl, and a level-headed politician. I like your feminist style, Germany.