Life on Ice: Top Ten Documentaries, Survival in the World's Coldest Places

16 de juny de 2023

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." - Albert Camus, French philosopher, author, and journalist.


Life in the world's coldest regions is a testament to human resilience and adaptability. From the icy expanses of Siberia to the frozen wilderness of Antarctica, people have found ways to survive and thrive in these harsh environments. Documentaries and docuseries offer a fascinating glimpse into these unique lifestyles, capturing the challenges and triumphs of life on ice.

Living in freezing temperatures requires not only physical endurance but also a strong mental fortitude. These stories are a testament to the human spirit's ability to adapt and overcome, even in the face of extreme adversity. They also highlight the importance of community and cooperation in these isolated, inhospitable regions.


an ice skater


From Siberia to Antarctica: The 10 Best Documentaries to freeze us:



Life Below Zero

a woman in a storm covers herself with her jacket

This National Geographic docuseries, available on Netflix, follows the daily lives of people living in remote areas of Alaska, where temperatures can drop below zero. Through the lens of the camera, the stark beauty of the Alaskan landscape and the resilience of those who have chosen to make this place their home are captured.


Frozen Man

A military ship in a trip to the Antarctic at night

The following documentary shows that a delicate gaze through a film camera is the only thing necessary to capture even the smallest feature of an indomitable geography. Onboard an Uruguayan Navy Vessel during its customary trip to the Antarctic, the director Carolina Campo Lupo shows us the majesty of this icy continent as opposed to the small figure of the humans who inhabit the boat. At the beginning of the film, the focus of the story is occupied by the meticulous observation of the silent routine of the military men on board the ship, but while the pieces of ice grow larger in the sea, the gaze changes to the white territory of the Antarctic and its vestiges of civilization.


On The Road

A truck driver on Chinese highway in a snow storm

When the shooting of a documentary she has previously planned was canceled by a fierce snowstorm, filmmaker Yang Yishu had to improvise a new story in the midst of these harsh weather circumstances. The film follows two drivers of a cargo truck as they try to reach their destination in the midst of this freezing storm on the roads of southern China. Improvised, rough, and claustrophobic. This is one of those beautiful rarities of the documentary world.


Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

 a sleigh and a snow dog

This documentary, available to watch online on YouTube, offers an intimate look at the life of trappers in the Siberian Taiga, living in harmony with the harsh landscape that surrounds them. Through personal interviews and archival footage, the film captures the simplicity and toughness of their lifestyle, as well as their deep respect and connection with nature.


Antarctica: A Year on Ice

 the closeup of a frozen man

Available on Netflix, this film provides a stunning depiction of life in Antarctica, capturing the breathtaking beauty and brutal cold of this remote continent. Through stunning imagery and personal accounts, the documentary offers a unique insight into the daily life in one of the most extreme places on Earth.


The White Planet

narwhals fight

This documentary explores the wildlife and landscapes of the Arctic and Antarctica, offering a glimpse into the challenges and wonders of life in these extreme environments. From the migration of walruses to the survival struggle of polar bears, the film captures the beauty and brutality of these ever-changing ecosystems.


Cold Love

Sean Swarner looks at us from an icy landscape

Welcome to the Arctic, at the North Pole, the coldest place on the planet. In this documentary, we will learn about this beautiful and untamed polar region from Lonnie Dupre, an explorer who has dedicated more than 25 years of his life to inhabiting the Arctic and raising awareness about the climate threat it faces. Drawing on the knowledge he learned while living with the indigenous Inuit tribes, Dupre traverses vast miles using dogsleds, kayaks and skis as part of his inspiring adventure.


Picture Of Light

An aurora borealis as seen in the documentary Picture of Light

In frozen areas of the planet, some explorers go in search of unforgettable views, impossible to have near civilization, and the protagonists of this documentary go in search of surreal images that can only be found in certain Arctic areas. Renowned filmmaker Peter Metler follows a group of scientists during their expeditions to three locations in northern North America to capture the electromagnetic phenomenon of the aurora borealis or the so-called "Northern Lights”. A film you simply can't miss.


Encounters at the End of the World

a man in a red jacket holds a guitar for a photo in antarctica

Directed by Werner Herzog, this film delves into the lives of the people who work and live in Antarctica, one of the most remote and inhospitable places on the planet. Through intimate interviews and archival footage, Herzog captures the stark beauty of the Antarctic landscape and the resilience and adaptability of those who have chosen to make this place their home.


True North: The Sean Swarner Story

Sean Swarner looks at us from an icy landscape

If you thought there were great explorers out there, imagine the ranking of one who has beaten cancer twice and continues to put himself to the test in the icy wilderness. This is the case of Sean Swarner, a two-time cancer survivor who now faces his greatest challenge in life: becoming an Explorer's Grand Slam-scaling champion. To do so, he must reach the highest point on all continents and then hiking to the North and South Poles, something only an exclusive group of people have managed to do.


These documentaries and docuseries offer a captivating look into the realities of life in the world's coldest regions. They remind us of the incredible resilience and adaptability of the human spirit, and the profound beauty that can be found even in the harshest of environments.


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