There are very few words in director Victor Kossakovsky’s documentary “Aquaria,” but the images that capture the power and beauty of water made me think of a few words.
They are words spoken in 2009 by David Tennant, as The Doctor, in the “Doctor Who” episode “The Waters of Mars.” “Water is patient,” The Doctor says. “Water just waits. Wears down the cliff tops, the mountains. The whole of the world. Water always wins.”
Kossakovsky first shows water’s power, in solid form, to swallow automobiles. On a frozen Lake Baikal in Russia, workmen use ropes and a hoist to pull cars out of the water, after they have fallen through the ice. While they do, they yell at drivers who still attempt to drive across the lake. One responds, essentially, that he should be able to drive across the lake because at the same time last year, the ice was still solid enough for cars for three more weeks. If there’s a more succinct example of the perils of denying climate change, I can’t think of it.
From Russia, Kossakovsky finds more ice in motion, in icebergs cleaving off of glaciers in Greenland. Their loud cracks pierce the air like gunfire, their rumbling as they splash into the water feel like an earthquake.
Crossing the oceans, Kossakovsky eventually lands in Miami, in September 2017, in the middle of Hurricane Irma. Elsewhere, he takes us to Venezuela’s Angel Falls, where the water plunges just over half a mile.
The water Kossakovsky photographs isn’t always so violent. But even the quieter footage of ocean waves still has its impact, as it shows us how much water is out there.
The footage often surprises, enough to make viewers jump upright in their seats. At other times, though, it’s like an oversized screensaver, calming and hypnotic. The striking views are a reminder to humanity that, even as we pollute the oceans and rivers, the water was here before we were — and will wash us away when we’re gone.
Opened August 16 in select markets; opens Friday, September 27, at the Megaplex Gateway (Salt Lake City). Rated PG for some thematic elements. Running time: 89 minutes.