A guide working with a scientific expedition in Antarctica has to leave his beloved sled dogs behind when their base is evacuated due to an unusually strong storm. The eight dogs have to survive the harsh conditions by themselves, document.write(“”); against impossible odds. For six months their master is agonising over the unknown fate of his dogs, trying to gather the funds in order to come back and rescue them.
Eight Below is the remake of the Japanese movie Antarctica (Nankyoku Monogatari / South Pole Story) (directed by Koreyoshi Kurahara, with a script by Toshiro Ishido, Koreyoshi Kurahara, Tatsuo Nogami and Kan Saji, and starring Ken Takakura and Tsunehiko Watase—with a small role for Susan Napier, author of “Anime: From Akira to Princess Mononoke”!—and music by Vangelis). Based on the true story of a 1958 Japanese Antarctic expedition, it was released in 1983 and became a huge success. The original movie was a real tear-jerker, had a superb photography and focused on the dogs’ hardship (out of fifteen Sakhalin Huskies, only two survived).
The American version is still a sad movie showing the beautiful landscape of Antarctica (in fact it was mostly shot in Canada and Greenland, with some stock footage of Antarctica), but it is certainly not as beautiful as the original. It is the story of an American Antarctic expedition and focuses mostly on the dogs’ master emotions, his rescue efforts and it is a much shorter movie (120 min. vs 143 min). The Leopard Seal that attacks the dogs doesn’t look real and somebody should have told the director that during the Antarctic winter, it is mostly dark. What annoyed me the most is the fact that [SPOILER: highlight to reveal] all dogs but two survived [/SPOILER], the total opposite of the original movie — but, hey!, it’s a Walt Disney movie after all! However, all in all, it is a nice, entertaining movie. The extras include deleted scenes and a “making of.”
Eight Below. USA, 2006, 120 min.; Dir.: Frank Marshall; Scr.: David DiGilio (based on Nankyoku Monogatari); Phot.: Don Burgess; Ed.: Christopher Rouse; Music: Mark Isham; Cast: Paul Walker, Bruce Greenwood, Moon Bloodgood, Jason Biggs. Rated PG.