Hold Your Breath: The Ice Dive  Netflix Review: A stunningly-shot documentary about a freediver
Hold Your Breath : The Ice Dive  Netflix Review: As humans, our ambitions drive us. They motivate us to live every moment and every day striving for betterment. They make us realize the possibilities and give us a clear path to walk on. But what if such ambitions do not follow the generic career paths? What if a person wants to achieve something so difficult and unorthodox that their ambitions are not looked at from the same lens? The Summit of the Gods, which came out last year, showcased a similar narrative where we follow a person trying to reach new heights through mountaineering with an unimaginable amount of strength and passion. Such is also the story of Johanna Nordblad, a freediver from Finland, who wants to break the world record for distance traveled under frigid ice with just one breath. Lo and behold, she aces the test with flying colors! What we witness is a story of triumph with a set of pitfalls.
The documentary ‘Hold Your Breath: The Ice Dive’, directed by Ian Derry, follows Johanna whose wish is to make a world record in something that is exceptionally hard and challenging. The film shows her life in her town, where we get to know her not just as the adult that she is but as a young person with an incredible amount of drive to break barriers with a continuing resilience and a will of trying to make the impossible, possible. She becomes known to us as someone who had defied the gender expectations and always tried to do the things that she was told a girl should not do. Be it motorbiking, or any other sort of adventure that she could be a part of, she was always ready for it.
With this background, the documentary sketches her character as a rebellious person who seeks adventurous routes with great interest and dedication. It makes the viewers find a connection with her goal and the goal-driven approach that makes her want to go to the lengths that are strenuous for any individual and that are not in the routes that are generally taken. She is not ambitious with respect to money or a better step in a career, at least from the bits that the film shows us. She works full-time at a place, but her passion lies in freediving. Her job does not limit her from harboring the dreams of going to lengths in the chilling underwaters.
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Her son mentions how he rather prefers to have a mother like her than to have a parent who would be engaged in generic pursuits. He finds her drive towards adventure valid. Through the film, we meet a family that is supportive of her pursuit. Even after being successful in her attempt to reach the lengths underwater, she mentions how her feat is a team effort without whom it would not have been possible. Her humble and clear-headed approach is what makes her an interesting person to know about.
Johanna’s story has a share of its obstacles, mainly the one of the Covid-19 outbreak that started to blow up around the time of her first attempt. With respiratory issues being the common cause behind this disease, she could not go through with diving any time soon. Besides that, the number of responsibilities that fell upon her because of the outbreak kept her from thinking about her pursuit for a while. Her priorities changed just like many other people around the world. Yet almost a year later, she shows the same spirit and exuberance as an absolute fresher would.
Her bone-chilling pursuit of the swim is shot exceptionally well with cameras that hover over her locales and give us an understanding of the vast snowy landscapes from the place where she belongs to. While the bird’s eye view shots establish the vastness, the close-ups take us through a panoramic experience and project it in a way that she lives it. The fresh blues and whites envelop the screens and their elaborate play, along with the impressive editing, keep us glued to the screen.
The documentary follows a rudimentary chronological structure along with the flashbacks shown through the photographs and does not achieve anything particularly inventive. Yet, it manages to make us resonate with Johanna and emotionally invest in the stakes before her. It stays consistently engaging and visually enthralling. Hence, it becomes an impressive informative piece about its subject while creating an emotional engagement.