The icy Arctic region has long been a source of mystery and intrigue for explorers, scientists, and adventurers alike. But recently Netflix released a true-crime documentary based off the strange tale of a man who spent 30 years living in secret in the wilderness of northern Alaska. This article seeks to uncover what really happened to this mysterious figure, who was he and how did he spend so much time alone in such a hostile environment?
In June 1906, Danish explorer Ludvig Mylius-Erichsen led a team of 28 men to northeast Greenland
In order to map its uncharted areas. Though this so-called Denmark Expedition did succeed in collecting new data, that fact was largely overshadowed by the tragic loss of three men—Mylius-Erichsen, Danish cartographer Niels Peter Høeg-Hagen, and Inuit dogsledder and diarist Jørgen Brønlund—who never returned from a dogsled trip to Danmark Fjord.
Other members of the party discovered Brønlund’s body, along with some sketch maps and his diary, in March 1908. Brønlund’s parting message revealed that he had suffered frostbite and ultimately “perished … under the hardships of the return journey” the previous November, and both his comrades had died earlier that month. He gave an approximate location of their bodies, but the remaining explorers didn’t recover them before heading back to Denmark.
A rescue mission for people who were definitely dead may not have garnered much financial support
Finding Mylius-Erichsen and Høeg-Hagen meant possibly finding their journals, too—and maybe even clearing up some burning questions about Greenland’s geography. Chief among them was the mystery of Peary Channel. In the early 1890s, American explorer Robert Peary—best known for his quest to reach the North Pole—asserted that part of northeast Greenland was totally separated from the rest of the island by a body of water dubbed the “Peary Channel.” If the missing Denmark Expedition documents corroborated that claim, it could mean that the territory above the channel belonged to the U.S., not Denmark.
So, in June 1909, an expert Danish explorer (and friend of Mylius-Erichsen) named Ejnar Mikkelsen and six men set sail for Greenland in a motorized sloop named the Alabama, hoping to come home with answers. Their harrowing adventure would feature nearly every horror the Arctic had to offer, from starvation and scurvy to frostbite and polar bear attacks. Mikkelsen chronicled it all in his memoir Two Against the Ice—the basis for Netflix’s new film Against the Ice, co-written and co-produced by Game of Thrones’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who also stars as Mikkelsen.
Directed by Joe Penna, ‘Arctic’ is a survival drama film that stars Mads Mikkelsen as Overgard
A stranded pilot waiting to be rescued in the harsh cold climate of the Arctic. However, when another survivor’s fate is inadvertently tied to him, Overgård is forced to choose between remaining housed in the plane’s wreckage or undertaking an ambitious hike to find help.
The emotionally riveting 2018 film has minimal dialog but explores the nature of humanity through the uncanny tale of survival. Therefore, viewers must be curious to learn about the inspiration behind it. If you are wondering whether ‘Artic’ is inspired by real events, here is everything you need to know!
Is Arctic based on True Story?
No, ‘Arctic’ is not based on a true story. The film is based on an original concept from director Joe Penna. Penna is a musician and filmmaker known for directing several short films. He directed the 2021 sci-fi film ‘Stowaway‘ starring Anna Kendrick and Daniel Dae Kim. Penna also directed episodes of the thriller series ‘Release.’ ‘Arctic’ is Penna’s debut directorial feature film debut. However, the idea of the survival film’s premise is not very grounded in reality.
Penna runs a highly successful YouTube channel known as Mystery Guitar Man. On the channel, Penna created several short films and music videos. However, Penna wished to break the mold and wanted to make his feature film debut. He wanted to tell a positive and happy story that would have a different tone from his previous body of work. Therefore, he teamed up with his writing partner Ryan Morrison who co-wrote the screenplay for ‘Arctic.’ However, after rejecting offers to make several horror movies, the duo decided to o a survival film.
In an interview with The Hot Corn, Penna opened up about conceptualizing the movie’s concept. “We started looking for different things, and I knew that I wanted to tell a relatively universal story, so that’s what we were searching for, and survival was always going to be interesting,” Penna stated. After deciding on survival as the primary theme, the writers chose Mars as the movie’s primary setting. Penna and Morrison liked the hostile atmosphere of the Red Planet as the setting for a survival movie.
However, after writing an initial draft of the screenplay, the duo learned about Ridley Scott’s 2015 space-survival drama ‘The Martian‘ starring Matt Damon in the lead role. Penna felt their project had little chance of materializing, given its similarity to ‘The Martian,’ leading him to drop the idea of a survival movie set on Mars.
Eventually, Penna and Morrison reworked the script and changed the setting to the Arctic
“The core of the story that we wanted to tell stayed the same, and it can be anywhere, in the Arctic or in a desert. You just change the mechanics of his challenges, and that’s it,” Penna said in the aforementioned interview. Penna explained that film dives into the nature of the human psyche. The narrative does not provide any backstories to its characters adding to the story’s universal theme and enabling a thorough exploration of humanity.
All things said, ‘Arctic’ is not based on a true story. The movie is based on the themes of survival and the human spirit. Initially planned as a space-survival film, the writers changed the setting to the Arctic, grounding the narrative in reality. The brilliant lead performance and clever writing anchor the film, allowing viewers to empathize with the protagonist’s quest for survival in the most hostile environment known to humankind. As a result, ‘Arctic’ exudes realism despite its unconventional conceptualization.