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
  • Joe Penna
  • Ryan Morrison
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
Budget$2 million
Box office$3.8 million[2][3]

Arctic is a 2018 Icelandic survival 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 a crashed plane. His daily routine consists of checking fishing lines for food, mapping his surroundings and running a distress beacon with a dynamo. One day, some of his fish are stolen by an unseen animal, implied to be a polar bear. Later, a helicopter appears and attempts to rescue him, but crashes after a snow flurry. The pilot (Tintrinai Thikhasuk) is killed and the passenger, a young woman (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir),[4] is severely injured. Overgård extracts her from the helicopter, feeding and clothing her at his plane.

Overgård returns to the helicopter where he finds some food, medical equipment, a map, and a sled. After studying the map, he locates a building that appears to be a few days away and decides to walk there. He secures the injured woman to the sled and begins the trek.

While still tending to the woman, H. Overgård eventually crosses a box which contains a faded identification card. Presumably, he has attempted the trip before, but turned back due to untold hardships. Overgård continues the journey, but soon finds an unmapped rock wall. Despite multiple attempts, he cannot scale it while pulling the young woman. He must change their route, now appearing to be around three days longer through the windward side of a large mountain.

They take refuge in a small grotto, where a polar bear locates them. Overgård manages to scare the bear away with one of his two distress flares. The next day after more travel, the woman's condition worsens. Believing she will not make it, he abandons her. Shortly after, he falls in a large crevasse, trapping his leg under a rock. He further injures his leg getting it free and manages to get out of the crevasse, returning to get the woman who is still alive.

After further travel, Overgård sees a helicopter in the distance. He lights his remaining flare but does not attract the attention of the helicopter crew. Desperate, the man sets his overcoat on fire and waves it, but it again goes unseen. The helicopter flies away, and Overgård, defeated, lies down next to the woman, takes her hand and accepts their fate. Moments later a glimpse of the helicopter can be seen as it lands behind them.


The film was shot over the course of 19 days in Iceland.[5] Mads Mikkelsen referred to the film as the most difficult shoot of his career.[6]


On 12 April 2018, the film was selected to compete for the Camera d'Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.[7][8] Bleecker Street acquired U.S. and selected international rights out of the Cannes Film Festival.[9]


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."[10] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 71 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[11]

Nick Allen of gave the film 2.5 stars, saying that the drama "largely subsists on the on-screen muscle of Mads Mikkelsen."[12] 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."[13] 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."[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ARCTIC - Festival de Cannes". Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Arctic (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Arctic (2019)". The Numbers. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  4. ^ Travers, Peter; Travers, Peter (30 January 2019). "'Arctic' Is an Ice-Cold Killer of a Movie". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "The 2018 Official Selection". Cannes Film Festival. 12 April 2018. Archived from the original on 2 April 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin (11 May 2018). "Cannes: Bleecker Street Buys 'Arctic'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Arctic (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  11. ^ "Arctic reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  12. ^ Allen, Nick (1 February 2019). "Arctic Movie Review & Film Summary (2019) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 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]