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Bear Island (1979)

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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Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Lansing
Heddi Lindquist
Otto Gerran
Judith Rubin
Paul Hartman
Inge Van Zipper
Nicholas Cortland ...
Marine Technician
Candace O'Connor ...
Laboratory Assistant
Joseph Golland ...
Meteorological Assistant
Richard Wren ...
Radio Operator


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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Below freezing and beyond fear... Will anyone survive its terror?


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Release Date:

August 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alistair MacLean's Bear Island  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


CAD 12,100,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to 'The Los Angeles Times' newspaper, the daily rental fee cost of renting the Russian ship the "Lyubov Orlova" in Alaska was US $6,000 per day which included the use of 101 crew-members See more »


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 »

Crazy Credits

Coming Soon Alistair Maclean's GOODBYE CALIFORNIA See more »


Referenced in From Stereo to Video (2014) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

They don't make 'em like they used to
7 August 2010 | by See all my reviews

I've been a movie geek since my childhood in the early 80's. This is one of the titles that for some reason stuck in my mind, even tho I never saw it because I was too young. Now was the first time I caught it on TV (scandinavian TCM). I'm surprised to see it's only available as a Spanish DVD and has an such a low score on IMDb (5.4/10).

I must say it's one of the better films I've seen this year, although I'm easy to please when it comes to certain types of film and this really is one of them. The locations and set design are amazing. This kind of isolation, feel of cold bleak winter, snow storms are very rarely portrayed so well, it's up there with Carpenter's The Thing. Grab a warm cup of coffee on a rainy day or a whiskey on a darkening evening while watching this.

I saw this without subtitling and had a bit of a trouble keeping up with the plot, even tho I'm pretty fluent in English. There are characters from USA, Germany, Denmark, Poland etc and a lot of exaggerated accents. It also doesn't make it much easier to follow the plot when the actors have similar clothing and are covered all the way, so you can't see their faces when outdoors.

I'm not much into action, but the scenes here worked. They are quite few, but longish and build slowly. There is some noticeable trick cinematography and jump cuts, but they're easily forgiven.

It's a fun detail that the expedition to Bear Island is initially about investigating the global warming. Judging by the original book synopsis, this wasn't the case on Maclean's book, but added to the movie. The movie is already over 30 years old so it's a nice eye opener for those who think global warming is something Al Gore invented.

It's far from perfect movie (from a relatively unknown Hammer horror director!), but the arctic scenery, some enjoyable performances (Sutherland) make up for it. Catch it if you can (TCM shows the widescreen version). It's a true nostalgia trip to a movie land that doesn't seem to exist anymore.

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