Arctic (film)

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Arctic film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoe Penna
Written by
Produced by
  • Chris Lemole
  • Tim Zajaros
  • Noah C. Haeussner
StarringMads Mikkelsen
CinematographyTómas Örn Tómasson
Edited byRyan Morrison
Music byJoseph Trapanese
  • Armory Films
  • Union Entertainment Group
  • Pegasus Pictures
Distributed byBleecker Street (United States)
XYZ Films (International)
Release dates
  • 10 May 2018 (2018-05-10) (Cannes)
  • 1 February 2019 (2019-02-01) (United States)
Running time
97 minutes[1]
  • Iceland
  • United States
  • English
  • Danish
  • Icelandic
Budget$2 million[citation needed]
Box office$4.1 million[2]

Arctic is a 2018 Icelandic survival drama film directed by Joe Penna and written by Penna and Ryan Morrison. The film is an international co-production between Iceland and the United States, and stars Mads Mikkelsen as a man stranded in the Arctic. The film premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, and was released in theatres on 1 February 2019.


Overgård (Mads Mikkelsen) is stranded in the Arctic Circle waiting for rescue, living in his crashed plane. His daily routine consists of checking fishing lines, mapping his surroundings and running a distress beacon powered by a hand-crank dynamo. One day, his supply of fish is raided by a polar bear. A helicopter responds to his beacon and attempts to land, but crashes. The pilot (Tintrinai Thikhasuk) is killed and the passenger (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir),[3] is severely injured and unconscious. Overgård dresses her wound and takes her to his plane. She does not speak English and only proves her alertness by squeezing his hand.

Overgård returns to the wreckage of the downed helicopter and finds some food, a propane cooking stove, medical equipment, a sled, a map of the area and a photo of the woman, the pilot and their child, which he brings back for her. On the map he locates a seasonal refuge that appears to be a few days' trek away. When the woman's condition does not improve, he decides he must risk the journey to the refuge to seek rescue, by a direct route. He secures the woman to the sledge and drags her behind him. He runs into a steep slope not indicated on the map, climbs it alone and sees a relatively smooth path in front of him, but fails three times in trying to hoist the woman up using ropes. He therefore decides he must take the longer route, around the icy outcrops, aware that this roundabout trek will add at least three days to his sledge-hauling trek. The flat path is exposed to strong headwinds.

When they take refuge one night in a cave, a polar bear is attracted to the scent of cooking fish. He drives the bear off with a distress flare. The next day the woman's condition worsens. Assuming her to be dead or near death, he abandons her to continue his journey alone but leaves her with the photo of her family. Shortly afterwards he falls in a crevasse and is knocked unconscious. He awakens to find himself at the bottom of a cavern with one of his legs trapped under a boulder. He injures it in repeated efforts to tug it free, and finally manages to crawl out of the cavern and back to the surface. Returning to the woman's sled, he finds that she is still alive, weeps in apology, and, despite his injured leg, sets his mind to taking her with him again.

Nearly at the end of his strength, he sees a helicopter in the distance. He lights his remaining flare but does not seem to attract the attention of the two men from the landed helicopter crew. Desperate, he sets on fire his parka, the only thing between him and freezing if the crew miss his signal, and then waves it wildly, but apparently to no avail. The helicopter takes off and disappears behind a mountain. Exhausted, he lies down next to the woman, takes her hand and prepares to meet his fate. He closes his eyes as the helicopter lands behind them.



The film was shot over the course of 19 days in Iceland.[4] Mads Mikkelsen referred to the film as the most difficult shoot of his career.[5]


On 12 April 2018, the film was selected to compete for the Camera d'Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.[6][7] Bleecker Street acquired U.S. and selected international rights out of the Cannes Film Festival.[8]


As of October 2021, the film holds a 90% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 150 reviews with an average rating of 7.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Arctic proves that a good survival thriller doesn't need much in the way of dialogue to get by -- especially when Mads Mikkelsen is the one doing the surviving."[9] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 71 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[10]

Nick Allen of gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4, saying that the drama "largely subsists on the on-screen muscle of Mads Mikkelsen."[11] Oliver Jones of The New York Observer gave the film 3.5/4 stars, calling it "precise, honest and unrelenting." He added that the film "is one of those singular cinematic experiences ... for which movie theaters still exist."[12] David Ehrlich of Indiewire called it "one of the best movies ever made about a man stranded in the wilderness", adding that "Mads Mikkelsen doesn't need any dialogue to deliver the best performance of his career."[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ARCTIC - Festival de Cannes". Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Arctic". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  3. ^ Travers, Peter (30 January 2019). "'Arctic' Is an Ice-Cold Killer of a Movie". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  4. ^ Mumford, Gwilym (17 May 2018). "Joe Penna was a YouTube sensation – now he has directed a serious film. Is it any good?". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  5. ^ Turan, Kenneth (11 May 2018). "Cannes: Mads Mikkelsen talks about the survival drama 'Arctic,' the most difficult shoot of his career". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 12 April 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  6. ^ "The 2018 Official Selection". Cannes Film Festival. 12 April 2018. Archived from the original on 2 April 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  7. ^ Debruge, Peter; Keslassy, Elsa (12 April 2018). "Cannes Lineup Includes New Films From Spike Lee, Jean-Luc Godard". Variety. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  8. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin (11 May 2018). "Cannes: Bleecker Street Buys 'Arctic'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  9. ^ "Arctic (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  10. ^ "Arctic reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  11. ^ Allen, Nick (1 February 2019). "Arctic Movie Review & Film Summary (2019) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  12. ^ Jones, Oliver (31 January 2019). "Mads Mikkelsen's 'Arctic' Hero Will Make You Want to Buy a Watch, Be More Chill". The New York Observer. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  13. ^ Ehrlich, David (11 May 2018). "'Arctic' Review: Mads Mikkelsen Gives a Career-Best Performance in a Nearly Wordless Survival Saga — Cannes 2018". Indiewire. Retrieved 11 May 2018.

External links[edit]