- Netflix Release Date: March 2, 2022
- Director: Peter Flinth
- Stars: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Joe Cole
Against the Ice (Trailer)
Against the Ice Overview
For hundreds of years, the bravest of the brave have been forging their way through the Arctic’s uncharted territory, despite the danger. It is unavoidable that each of these expeditions will encounter its own thrilling avalanche of near-fatal roadblocks; from frostbite to hungry bears, it is just part of the adventure. The Alabama expedition to northeast Greenland in 1909 is considered to be one of the most compelling accounts of Arctic exploration ever written. In this expedition, the illustrious Danish explorer Ejnar Mikkelsen and his crew set out on a quest to recover diaries left behind by members of the failed Mylius-Erichsen expedition, a mission that set out to prove that Greenland was not divided by coast and, as a result, did not partially belong to the United States.
The mission was a failure, and the diaries were never recovered. A screenplay adapted from Mikkelsen’s personal memoir Two Against the Ice chronicles his perilous days in the snow in the film Against the Ice, directed by Peter Flinth. The Alabama expedition is the subject of the film Against the Ice. When Mikkelsen tells his story, it is almost too fantastical to believe: Every type of obstacle you could imagine was encountered by the adventurer, including poisoning, cliff-hanging dogs, and an encounter with an arctic polar bear in the polar vortex. So, what is it about Flinth’s retelling that is so repetitive and mundane, you might wonder? All of the pieces have been put together.
With an underdog who is bound to make a slew of dangerous mistakes and a seasoned explorer who is determined to do whatever it takes to succeed, we have a winning combination. There’s also clear evidence that the Arctic is a dangerous place, as evidenced by the treacherous snowy ambiance created by Flinth, which includes deafening winds, a blinding landscape, and eerily empty wide shots that convey the unsettling endlessness of the Arctic tundra.
However, once Ejnar and Iver actually begin their journey, Against the Ice is suddenly devoid of any of the tension that it had promised in the beginning. An important factor in these results is the film’s slow, unhurried pace. We are immediately bombarded with scenes of the duo sluggishly trudging across the ice (which, in and of itself, becomes difficult to tolerate after a while), and somehow, when brief bursts of action do occur, they share the same sluggishness. However, Against the Ice benefits greatly from the outstanding performances of its principal actors. Cole gives the puppyish Iver a soft, watchful quality, and Coster-Waldau portrays Ejnar as precariously stoic and ready to quietly crumble at any moment in the film. When Ejnar’s mental state begins to deteriorate, Coster-calm Waldau’s performance defies any of the clichés associated with a man going insane in the wilderness. Sigh. What if a strong ensemble cast were enough to save a plodding, tedious film from the ice and snow of obscurity?