ARCTIC. Iceland, 2018. Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Maria Thelma Smaradottir. Directed by Joe Penna. 97 minutes. Rated M (Occasional coarse language).
if you are an enthusiast for powerful stories of endurance, endurance in impossible locations, prospects of rescue diminishing rapidly, then Arctic can be well recommended. It is precisely that. And, is rather visual in its presentation of a man who has crashed in the Arctic.
This is a film from Iceland, and filmed there. The central character, Overgaard, is played by Denmark’s top actor, International presence, Mads Nicholson. In most of his films, he is a very serious Character, not exactly prone to comedy. Which means, that he is ideal to portray this pilot, alone in the remote Arctic, crashed, the wing of his plane broken.
Needless to say, there is not a great deal of dialogue in this film, focusing as it does on the loan survivor. There is a great attention to detail, is devices for catching fish through the snow and ice, so we know that he is not going to be deprived of food and water. His radio is not working. He sleeps in the plane itself and has some resources, especially some players, some matches…
But, he is alone. Does anyone know what has happened to him?
Suddenly, helicopter circles, and he sets off a flare for of hope. In fact, so was the audience. But, perhaps a necessary spoiler, especially when you see that mads Mikkelsen is not the sole member of the cast, the helicopter crashes. There is a survivor, a young girl, gashed, in shock, not able to communicate well.
Which turns the film into a double survivor story – with the decision by Overgaard to put the young girl on a sled, gather supplies, track over the mountains in the hope of rescue.
So, the film is one of endurance – and one of the difficulties with this kind of film, think of those mountain climbing epics, the football team which crashed in the Andes, the audience is the endurance, a hard slog of film viewing, identifying with characters and their situations. Arctic is definitely for this kind of audience – but for a comfy night out, better not.
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Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.