Chamisso’s Shadow: A Journey to the Bering Sea in Three Chapters
In 2014, Ulrike Ottinger journeyed to the distant regions of the Bering Sea—to Alaska, then Chukotka and Wrangel Island, and on to Kamchatka and Bering Island—following along the paths of historic expeditions and explorers, such as the naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller and Vitus Bering; later, Captain James Cook; and, still later, the poet and botanist Adelbert von Chamisso, who traveled with Otto von Kotzebue. Over a three-month period, Ottinger filmed the remarkable landscape, flora, and fauna; documented encounters with local residents, who subsist off the land and sea; and kept a logbook of her experiences. In the resulting multipart film, her observations enter into a fascinating dialogue with the logbooks and records of past explorers. A work of great beauty—possibly Ottinger’s magnum opus—Chamisso’s Shadow holds appeal for those interested in nature, history, geography, science, ethnography, indigenous cultures, art, and cinema, and should be more widely known.