On the remote Norwegian Bear Island, used as a submarine base by the Germans during WW2, U.N. scientist Larsen sends a distress signal using an emergency NATO frequency and is received by scientific vessel Morning Rose.
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A group of people converge on a barren Arctic island. They have their reasons for being there but when a series of mysterious accidents and murders take place, a whole lot of darker motives become apparent. Could the fortune in buried Nazi gold be the key to the mystery? Donald Sutherland and Vanessa Redgrave investigate. Written by
Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>
When everyone is outside after the generator explosion it is blowing a blizzard, but the flames are rising vertically with minimal wind disturbance rather than being virtually horizontal, revealing that wind machines are being used just on the area where the actors are. See more »
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Disappointingly average but strangely hard to dislike
Bear Island is one of those movies I want to like more for all its cheesiness. Barely released theatrically, cut heavily for home video and rarely shown on TV, it marked the end of the big screen Alistair MacLean goldmine (subsequent adaptations would be straight to cable) and, pretty much, the viability of most of the cast as leading players Donald Sutherland, Vanessa Redgrave and Richard Widmark in particular would soon be relegated to the little leagues or supporting roles. At times it's like a bad accent competition, with Richard Widmark's German and Christopher Lee's Polish faring better than Vanessa Redgrave's Norwegian ("Yuust becorzz somwun haas givan anne ohrdoor?") which at least adds a little variety to her usual flat delivery of dialogue. Maybe Donald Sutherland should have tried one too because he spends huge chunks of the movie sounding bored stiff, not helped by being required to play one scene in red long johns and trapper's cap. There's nothing new here: multinational UN climate change expedition to the Arctic is beset by mysterious deaths and accidents related to a fortune in Nazi gold in the ruins of a nearby U-boat pen, with all the predictable plot turns. This being Alistair MacLean, no-one is what they claim to be, and this being an adaptation of a novel virtually nothing bears any resemblance to what was on the printed page (much of which took place on the voyage to the island). Aside from one good 'accidental' poisoning sequence the book was hardly one of MacLean's best efforts, so that's no great loss. It has its moments if you're in an undemanding mood there's a memorably atmospheric shot of the ship passing the cliff top graveyard of German U-boat crews, while the U-boat pen set is genuinely impressive and it's well photographed on some striking remote locations, but it's more filler than main course.
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