3 user 6 critic

White Wilderness (1958)

Approved | | Documentary, Family | 12 August 1958 (USA)
The wildlife of the arctic is explored in this true-life adventure.




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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Winston Hibler ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Volmer Sørensen ...
(Danish narrator) (as Sejr Volmer Sørensen)


The wildlife of the arctic is explored in this true-life adventure.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


From The Top Of The World! A fabulous new adventure in exciting entertainment


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 August 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A True-Life Adventure: White Wilderness  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This picture was filmed in Alberta, Canada, which is not a native habitat for lemmings. They were imported from Manitoba for use in the film, and were purchased from Inuit children by the filmmakers. The Arctic rodents were placed on a snow-covered turntable and filmed from various angles to produce a "migration" sequence; afterwords, the helpless creatures were transported to a cliff overlooking a river and herded into the water. The entire sequence was faked using a handful of lemmings deceptively photographed to create the illusion of a large herd of migrating creatures. It was this film that perpetuated the myth in popular culture of lemming suicide, something that's never been reported to have occurred in real life. See more »


Contrary to popular belief repeated in this film, lemmings do not commit suicide en masse by jumping off cliffs into the sea. However cyclical population explosions do induce lemmings to migrate to unfamiliar territory where they are crowded and prone to accidents such as falling off cliffs or drowning but these are not considered suicide in any sense. See more »


Follows Bear Country (1953) See more »

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User Reviews

"This is the story of life meeting and conquering the bleakest environment on Earth."
23 December 2015 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

Oscar-winning Disney documentary, directed by James Algar, about life in the Arctic (filmed in Canada). As with the other Disney nature documentaries I've seen from this period, the beautiful photography of the scenery and wildlife is what makes this worth recommending. There's exciting footage of rushing rivers and glaciers breaking apart and playful footage of polar bears playing, etc. Oliver Wallace's excellent score compliments the action well. A good thing, too, as Winston Hibler's monotone narration can be sleep-inducing. There have been many similar television and film documentaries in the decades since this was made but the footage here is so good it still manages to impress. Some scenes were staged, including the unpalatable 'lemming suicide' scene. Today, where discussions of the environment are concerned, there are inevitable axes to grind and flags to be raised. What's refreshing about seeing older docs, such as White Wilderness, is that they are just trying to provide a look at nature's many wonders in an informative and entertaining way. There's no agenda. Some elements may be dated but, for the most part, this is still a great documentary with lovely nature photography that should please most viewers.

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