The Christchurch leg of the New Zealand International Film Festival is in full swing and there's been some brilliant films on show thus far!
A particular favourite of mine has been 'Arctic' - a one-man powerhouse performance by Mads Mikkelsen. He's a pilot that has crash-landed somewhere in the vast emptiness of the Arctic and from the beginning of the film it's obvious that he's already been there for some time. He has developed a routine and a set of behaviours that centres around:
a) keeping himself fed (luckily there's fish right under his feet ready for the catching), and
b) giving himself the best possible chance of being rescued.
Without giving anything away, events occur that lead him to the decision to make a long trek to a possible permanent habitat due North. It's a road movie, a survival piece, and a celebration of the resilience of humans in the face of insurmountable odds. Mads needs some serious recognition for this performance!
The survival-against-the-odds theme is not something new to us in storytelling and film making however. I myself am particularly drawn to those stories that pit an individual - often the survivor of some calamitous event, against the wilderness in whatever shape that takes. There are examples set in jungles, deserts, mountains and polar regions, there are even some set in space. Often the entire story is reliant on a single actor to shoulder the whole burden and when there's nature involved it opens the way for cinematographers, costume designers, and music composers to help set the scene and drive the suspense. A good recent example is 'All is Lost' which sees Robert Redford give a riveting performance as a man lost at sea, adrift and endangered.
And here's nine more, in a list...
Films that showcase the stranded loner pitted against nature and against all the odds of surviving at all... From the jungle to the Arctic, from space, the open ocean, and the desert; all these environments are out to kill you! Could you do what it takes to survive...?!?
the super-popluar novel of the same name. An astronaut is left behind on Mars after a minor disaster spoils the plans for the mission. The "castaway" is a biologist and he soon gets to work farming potatoes, and making plans for his rescue. Big budget, big names, big topic! Matt Damon delivers a pretty decent representation of the main character but this does get very "Hollywood" at times.... but then it's set on Mars and it's a survivalist story so what's not to like!!
the book by Michael Punke first though, it goes better than the film.
Many of these stories are based on books and some are true life tales of hardship and exposure, but for today we're talking movies...