Based on the true story of a supply flight that crashed near the North Pole in 1991, the 1992 made-for-TV movie ORDEAL IN THE ARCTIC tells a naturally dramatic story that commands attention in spite of a near-absence of characterization or conflict.
Military airplane Boxtop 22 departs a United States base in Greenland on a routine flight to Alert, the northernmost military base in the world. Among the military and civilian passengers are Dr. Wilma DeGroot (Catherine Mary Stewart), a doctor on relief duty, Bob Thompson (Richard McMillan), who
runs the base PX, and Sue Hillier (Melanie Mayron), a hairdresser who signed up for temporary employment at the base. During approach to the landing field, Captain John Crouch (Richard Chamberlain) loses sight of the base and the plane crashes and explodes, 12 miles from the base.
Thrown clear of the plane, Sue and Bob cannot to be moved because of possible spinal injuries. A ground rescue team is blocked by a gorge from reaching the crash site, and air rescue is rendered impossible by a fierce storm. In the dark, with no radio contact and little survival gear, the other
survivors huddle in the wreckage for protection from the wind and temperatures of minus 22 degrees Celsius. Having promised the panicked and pain-racked Sue and Bob that he would not leave them alone, the guilt-stricken Crouch makes regular visits to them. While the air rescue waits for a break in
the weather, the ground team takes the long way around the gorge. The diligent rescue teams reach the crash site after 32 hours--too late for Crouch, who has died of exposure.
Presumably the scriptwriter and the author of Death and Deliverance, the book on which this film was based, wanted to remain true to the actual events and people depicted. Still, a little dramatic license would have done a lot for ORDEAL IN THE ARCTIC. After the plane crashes, virtually nothing
happens as the survivors wait for the rescue attempts they know are on their way. The bulk of the dozen or so actors have little to do but chatter their teeth and complain about the cold. The bulk of the dialogue goes to Melanie Mayron as she tries to keep herself and Bob awake, but almost all of
it is on the level of "Don't give up!" and "Hang in there!" Some pertinent questions are left unanswered, most notably, just what was the cause of the crash?, and, did Sue and Bob recover from their injuries? Watchable in spite of itself, ORDEAL IN THE ARCTIC is the pefect film to make you
appreciate your warm bed. (Adult situations.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: PG
- Review: Based on the true story of a supply flight that crashed near the North Pole in 1991, the 1992 made-for-TV movie ORDEAL IN THE ARCTIC tells a naturally dramatic story that commands attention in spite of a near-absence of characterization or conflict. Milit… (more)