Review: The Fabulous Ice
First time director, producer, and cinematographer Keri Pickett does an incredible job encompassing the continual changing sport that is figure skating in her documentary The Fabulous Ice Age. The task that Pickett had to overcome was making a documentary that would appeal not only to dedicated fans but also to casual Olympic spectators who are interested in the evolution of the sport. Thankfully she manages to do so by intertwining figure skating history with personal accounts from a variety of professionals who told their stories of friendship, relationships, and what it was like being a figure skater as the sport grew.
The Fabulous Ice Age starts off in 1915 with a story of a German ice skater named Charlotte and ends in modern day Minneapolis. For dedicated audiences who follow the history of figure skating this documentary will provide new stories from some of the more well-known names of figure skating. However if you are not a fan of the sport but are fascinated this will provide a great insight into the life and the ever-changing culture of the sport itself. Through the wonderful collection of former figure skater Roy Blakely, we are able to see the evolution and the sheer beauty of the sport before it fell apart and became more of a spectacle than a passion.
When there is a great beauty that is taken away, a director can often have difficulty turning an informative film into one of misery and disaster. Director Pickett wonderfully accomplishes the former; spending the majority of the film on the highlights of figure skating, the good times, the pleasant memories. She hits the hard times head on but never quite brings the positive vibes back to the film. When going into darker territory and the devolution of the sport into a mass consumerism product, the film has trouble reconnecting with that bright light. Although that may not be the worst case scenario as it provides a metaphor for what has happened to the sport, it has simmered down from a once beautiful glow into a faint light in the distance.
The glory days of figure skating were indeed a marvellous time, but capitalism took the phenomenon and turned it into a show for the ages rather than a sport enjoyed by passion. The Fabulous Ice Age provides a glow to that faint memory of the past before the sport began to fade away and the last costumed heroes took to the ice.