Arctic (film)

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Arctic film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoe Penna
Produced by
  • Chris Lemole
  • Tim Zajaros
  • Noah C. Haeussner
Written by
StarringMads Mikkelsen
Music byJoseph Trapanese
CinematographyTómas Örn Tómasson
Edited byRyan Morrison
  • Armory Films
  • Union Entertainment Group
  • Pegasus Pictures
Distributed byBleecker Street (United States)
XYZ Films (International)
Release date
  • 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 theaters on 1 February 2019.


Overgård (Mads Mikkelsen) is stranded somewhere in the Arctic Circle waiting for rescue, taking up residence in his crashed plane. The film begins by following him through his daily routine, which consists of checking fishing lines for catches, mapping his surroundings and running a distress beacon powered by a hand-crank dynamo. One day, his routine is disrupted when some of his fish are stolen by an animal, implied to be a polar bear that is seen soon afterwards. Later, a helicopter appears. The pilot sees him and attempts a rescue. But it crashes in a sudden, violent wind. The pilot (Tintrinai Thikhasuk) is killed and the passenger, his wife (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir),[3] is severely injured and unconscious. Overgård extracts her from the helicopter, and takes her back to his plane where he cares for her.

Overgård returns to the wreckage of the downed helicopter and finds some food, a propane cook stove, medical equipment, a sled and a map of the area. 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 several day journey to the refuge so that she can get the care she needs. He secures the injured and mostly unconscious woman to the sled and begins the trek.

At the beginning of his journey, he comes across a box which contains a faded identification card. Presumably, he has attempted the trip before, but turned back due to untold hardships. Continuing on, he soon is confronted with a steep rock wall that was not indicated on the map. He scales the wall alone and, once on the top, he sees a relatively smooth path in front of him. For a while he debates whether to leave the woman behind on her sled below and save himself. He decides to try to pull her up the cliff on her sled. Despite multiple attempts, he cannot hoist the sled up using ropes. As a result, he must change their route, which adds at least three days to their travel along a path that is exposed to the wind.

They take refuge for the night in a small cave, but a polar bear is attracted to the scent of the fish they are cooking and tries to enter the cave. He drives the bear off with one of his two distress flares. The next day after more travel, the woman's condition worsens. Assuming her to be near death and her condition hopeless, he abandons her to continue his journey alone. Shortly after, he falls in a large crevasse and is knocked unconscious. He awakens to find himself at the bottom of a large cavern, with one of his legs trapped between two boulders. He injures his leg getting it free and crawls out of the cavern and back to the surface. Returning to the woman's sled, he finds that she has recovered enough to speak one word: "Hello." He attaches himself to her sled again and continues.

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 helicopter crew. Desperate, the man sets his parka on fire and waves it, but again, apparently, to no avail. The helicopter takes off and disappears behind a mountain. Defeated, he lies down next to the woman, takes her hand and prepares to meet his fate, telling her "It's okay." In the final seconds of the movie, the helicopter can be seen landing 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]


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 89% based on 117 reviews, and an average rating of 7.15/10. 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; 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. Penske Business Media. 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 Media. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  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]