Picture of Light

Director: Peter Mettler

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival


Picture, if you can, traveling to one of the coldest, most remote places on earth—the frozen reaches of Canada’s Arctic. Your reward is one of nature’s most spectacular light shows, the northern lights, or aurora borealis (the lights with no bodies), pouring colors from the sky. Capturing these incredible images, more awesome than any man-made special effect, on film would seem to be impossible.

Filmmaker Peter Mettler, the creator of the visionary documentary, Picture of Light, has succeeded admirably, but this film is more than an exploration of the heavens. It deals with some of the basic elements of survival in this remote outpost, such as the astounding physics of drifting snow and the phenomenon of bathing, where the relentless climate causes animals (and we are all animals) to overkill.

Picture of Light is also about extremes: the distance between our world and outer space, the disjunction between civilization and the isolation of a frozen wilderness, and the bitterly cold conditions endured in making this film. It is a haunting journey to a place where we can marvel at one of nature’s wonders.

— Christian Gaines

Screening Details

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