10 Films Set in Antarctica and the Arctic

By admin / 10 April 2018

10 Films Set in Antarctica and the Arctic

Whether you’re planning an expedition cruise to Antarctica or the Arctic, or you simply want to know more about these fascinating and remote parts of the world, here are 10 films set in Antarctica and the Arctic that we think you’ll enjoy.

Subzero temperatures and awe-inspiring scenery, real-life adventures and fictional trillers, humans and animals and extraterrestrial beings… the polar regions have it all when it comes to movies and documentaries! Whether you’re planning an expedition cruise to Antarctica or the Arctic, or you simply want to know more about these fascinating and remote parts of the world, here are 10 films set in Antarctica and the Arctic that we think you’ll enjoy.   

Scott of the Antarctic (1948) 

Scott of the Antarctic depicts the ill-fated 1910-12 Terra Nova Expedition of British explorer Robert Falcon Scott, who set out to be the first person to reach the South Pole in Antarctica. Starring John Mills as Captain Scott, the screenplay was largely adapted from Scott’s diaries, with the visual aspects inspired by photographs and footage from the actual expedition. 

Although set in Antarctica, no actual scenes were filmed there for the purpose of the movie. Most of the film was shot at Ealing Studios, with location work in Switzerland and Norway blended with the original expedition footage of uninhabited Graham Land in the South Atlantic. Even today, the level of realism is remarkable. 

Scott of the Antarctic movie poster

(Image credit: allstarpics.famousfix.com)

The Thing (1982) 

Not for the feint-hearted, The Thing is a science-fiction horror film directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell. It tells the story of 12 crew members of a US research station in Antarctica, who discover a neighbouring Norwegian station destroyed - and all of its crew dead or missing. The only remaining clue is a charred humanoid corpse. 

The men take “the thing” back to their base to study, eventually determining that it is a parasitic extraterrestrial life form with the ability to assimilate other organisms and imitate them. Paranoia soon develops within the group and the men begin to turn on one another. 

The Thing movie poster films Arctic & Antarctica

(Image Credit: Universal Pictures - © 1982)

White Fang (1991) 

Based on Jack London’s novel of the same name, White Fang is a classic adventure story starring Ethan Hawk. Set in Alaska in 1898, it tells the story of young Yukon gold hunter Jack Conroy, who rescues an orphaned wolf-dog named “the white fang” (played by Jed). Eventually, he is stolen from Jack, trained to be viscous and entered into illegal dogfights. Jack later saves White Fang again, and his loyal companion helps him to fight off a group of criminals who try to steal his gold. A heart-warming tale of friendship set in the stunning Arctic wilderness.  

White Fang movie screen capture

(Image Credit: Hybrid Productions Inc. - © 1991)

Smilla’s Sense of Snow (1997) 

Starring Julia Ormond, Gabriel Byrne, and Richard Harris, Smilla’s Sense of Snow is an atmospheric thriller based on Peter Høeg's bestselling novel Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow. Beginning in Copenhagen, it tells the story of Greenlander Smilla Jasperson, who is driven to investigate the mysterious death of a Inuit child who lived in her apartment building. After examining the snow on the roof where the child fell from, she suspects wrongdoing and unearths a trail of clues that lead toward a Greenland Mining corporation. The discovery takes her on a harrowing journey of conspiracy and violence as she travels back to her Arctic homeland of ice and snow.

The Endurance (2000) 

Featuring new and original footage and interviews, The Endurance retells Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1912-14 legendary expedition to Antarctica, during which his vessel, Endurance, became trapped in the pack ice and eventually sank. With many of his crew severely injured and extremely weak from starvation and months of exposure, Shackleton had no alternative but to set off with his fittest men on an 800-mile journey across the Southern Ocean to find help. 

Battling appalling conditions, they eventually reached South Georgia, where they were able to organise a rescue mission of the abandoned crew. Incredibly, after spending almost two years trapped on the Antarctic ice, all 28 members of Shackleton’s expedition crew survived.  

The Endurance screen capture

(Image Credit: Royal Geographical Society)

Insomnia (2002) 

Starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hillary Swank, Insomnia is a psychological thriller set in a small fishing town in Alaska. Following the murder of a 17-year-old local girl, two LAPD detectives are sent to help the local police in their investigation. Pacino’s character, exhausted and disoriented by the perpetual sunlight, accidentally shoots and kills his partner in a fog-bound stakeout. After tampering with the evidence, his world begins to cave in around him and his personality flaws steadily come to light. 

March of the Penguins (2005) 

A year in the life of emperor penguins is the focus of this french documentary, which follows the birds on their annual journey across the Antarctic to their traditional breeding ground. From mating rituals and migrations to laying eggs and welcoming their new chicks, March of the Penguins is a fascinating and visually stunning film that provides insight into the challenges faced by these wonderful hardy birds.

March of the Penguins movie screen capture

(Image Credit: Warner Home Video)

How I Ended This Summer (2010) 

A gripping survival drama by Russian director Alexei Popogrebsky, How I Ended This Summer follows the story of meteorology intern Pavel “Pasha” Danilov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) and seasoned geophysicist Sergei Gulybin (Sergei Puskepalis) on an isolated meteorological station at the extreme north-eastern tip of Russia. 

A clash of personalities quickly creates a tense working environment for the two characters. This soon escalates to an atmosphere of fear and suspicion when Pavel receives an urgent radio message regarding Sergei, leading to a terrifying cat-and-mouse game amidst the remote and inhospitable landscape of the Russian Arctic

Chasing Ice (2012) 

Chasing Ice is the story of acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog’s mission to gather indisputable evidence of our changing planet. After visiting Iceland for the first time in 2005, Balog decided to return to the Artic to carry out the Extreme Ice Survey—a multi-year expedition during which he and his team deployed time-lapse cameras to record the changing glacier landscape. Battling subzero temperatures and untested technology, Balog faces his own mortality during his Arctic expedition. The result of his endeavour is a collection of breathtakingly beautiful videos that show ancient mountains of ice disappearing at a terrifying rate, as years are compressed into seconds.

Chasing Ice movie screen capture

(Image Credit: James Balog - © 2008 James Balog/Extreme Ice) 

Antarctica: A Year on Ice (2013)

From Frozen Planet photographer Anthony Powell, the moving documentary “Antarctica: A Year on Ice” is set in the Ross Island region and chronicles an entire year spent living and working on two remote research bases. Over ten years in the making, this award-winning film takes the viewer on a visually stunning journey to one of the harshest regions of the world, witnessing the valuable and challenging work carried out by a small yet dedicated team of scientists, technicians and craftsmen. 

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