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Chill Out: Best Documentaries to Watch in Winter

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As the season of winter comes around, so follows the cheesy seasonal movies, be it Love Actually, The Grinch, or Home Alone. These movies are undeniably classic but at the same time slightly overrated. A great escape from the basic Christmas movies while still enjoying the vibe of the winter season is watching nature documentaries. Here are some of the best nature documentaries to watch when the weather gets cold.

Meru

Meru follows three elite climbers, Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk, who were the first and only climb

ers to scale Mount Meru, located in the Himalayan range of North India. According to Jimmy Chin, Meru is arguably more difficult than Everest to climb despite being shorter. The mountain is virtually featureless, making the climb extremely difficult. In addition to the difficult structure of the mountain, the weather along the Himalayas is unpredictable and snow storms can last up to weeks. The crew battles deadly conditions, food shortages, trench foot and concussions, and have to restart the climb twice before finally summiting. Meru keeps you on the edge of your seat and introduces you to a profession not commonly known about outside of the climbing community. Meru is rated R for language and some intense scenes.

A Plastic Ocean

A Plastic Ocean is a documentary by Australian journalist Craig Leeson that studies the effects  that mass production of plastic has had on our world, especially in oceans. Leeson sets off to film a movie about blue whales in the Indian Ocean, but is sidetracked by the amount of plastic and garbage in the water. He then sets off on another expedition in the company of environmental activists across the globe studying the pollution and poor waste management that is rotting our planet. A Plastic Ocean is unrated but is very educational and contains mild themes.

Out of Thin Air

Iceland is a small, pea

ceful country with one of the lowest violent crime rates in the world. However, in the 1970s during the snowstorm season, the country was rocked by a horrific pair of assumed-murders. A young gang of petty criminals were convicted for the murders. Only after they got out of jail were questions asked about the accuracy of the convictions, with allegations made that their confessions were tortured out of them. Many Icelanders found the gang’s protests to their convictions convincing, and the bodies of the victims are yet to be found. One of the main individuals held responsible died without getting his case reheard, and Out of Thin Air revisits the case. As a true-to-reality retelling, it’s limited by the absence of resolution as the case has not been closed and the bodies haven’t been found. Despite this, it’s still a striking and depressing story, one that muddies Iceland’s image as a supremely civilized country. “Out of Thin Air” is not rated but contains stressful themes and is recommended to watch with an adult.

 

Sherpa

Sherpa is a documentary filmed by Australian filmmaker, Jennifer Peedom. Sherpa was filmed during the 2014 Mount Everest ice avalanche and follows Phurba Tashi, a sherpa who has made over 20 expeditions up Everest. Sherpas are Himalayan people who are renowned climbers and expert mountaineers. Tashi is documented in the film guiding a New Zealand team up the mountain, but after an avalanche kills 16 Everest sherpas, the movie shifts from his journey to an exploration of sherpa culture, the sherpas relationship with the mountain, and their relationships with each other. This film beautifully explores human connection with nature and how people cope with catastrophes due to nature. Sherpa is unrated but can be stressful for some audiences.

Before the Flood

Using his status as a celebrity and an actor, heartthrob Leonardo Dicaprio travels the globe to witness firsthand the effects of the largest environmental crisis of our time, global warming, in the Hollywood Film Award movie, Before the Flood. DiCaprio travels from Greenland, to Canada, to China, seeing environmental degradation in the form of smog, melting ice caps, and deforestation. He recounts his life as a performer and activist, and reflects on the change in his thoughts and knowledge about climate change in a relatable manner. This movie is bold and inspiring, calling the viewer to take clear actions to make the world a better place. Before the Flood is rated PG for some thematic events and some suggestive art scenes.

Ahna Stewart is an artist, music fanatic, and avid runner. As Social Media editor for the Polaris Press she can be spotted around school taking photos, conducting interviews, and creating visual content on the computer. Ahna loves vegetarian food, going on adventures, NBC sit-coms, and stalking famous dogs on instagram. She aspires to make the world a more educated place through honest journalism.

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