Here’s a fan review of Beyond the Pole which held it’s London Premiere on Dec. 5th, 2009.
Thank you to our friend Debbie for her wonderful story…
It was with great anticipation that I attended the premiere of Beyond the Pole in a packed Leicester Square, central London, on Saturday night. The BtP facebook hype had boasted the presence of royalty. Roger Taylor (of legendary rock band Queen, geddit?) more than fulfilled this role. Lurking outside the entrance, I was hoping for at least a glimpse of our man Alexander. Director, David Williams, burst my bubble in as kind a manner as he could, explaining that Mr Skarsgard had just begun filming True Blood series 3 and was in LA….
My disappointment threatening to engulf me, I was barely able to exchange civilities with the lovely Helen Baxendale (Executive Producer of BtP, and star of Cold Feet & Friends) who vainly attempted to exchange a few words with me. Instead I forced myself to try to extract pleasure from the knowledge that our man would be appearing on the silver screen very shortly.
So to the movie which charts the journey of two friends who want to “do something” about global warming by walking to the North Pole, unsupported. Neither of the pair have ever done anything like it before and neither one is fully prepared for the stark challenges – physical and mental – that lie ahead. Stephen Mangan (Green Wing, Confetti) plays Mark Bark Jones, the dominant partner in the duo. As his manic, driven enthusiasm for their project unfolds, we are given glimpses of the failings in his personal life (his marriage disintegrating, the loss of the marital home and losing his job). His descent into a kind of comic ‘Apocalypse Now’ style derangement provides for some uneasy humour on occasion but also brought out some fine acting from Rhys Thomas (The Fast Show, Nathan Barley) as Brian Tongue who produced some genuinely touching moments. Brian is Mark’s effervescent sidekick, playing alongside his on-screen wife, the wonderful Rosie Cavaliero, who is loyal but profoundly embarrassed by the naivety of the two men. These two gave wonderful performances which were by turns hilarious and moving.
Clearly, filming in sub-zero temperatures in Greenland was a challenge for the cast and crew. During the Q&A, Thomas provided interesting titbits on some of the behind-the-scenes practicalities. For example, the toileting arrangements in place during filming in a remote part of Greenland which involved defecating into black plastic bin liners. There is also a scene involving the killing of a polar bear. David Williams was at pains to point out that no polar bears were harmed or killed during the making of the film, although the dead polar bear was in a sense all too real. It had been killed by an inhabitant of the place they were filming in as part of the usual hunting practices. The Director asked if they could borrow the head and skin which were intact for the polar bear scene. Hey presto! One polar bear, minus innards, filled with snow and ice provided the perfect solution to the “dead polar bear” problem.
The scenes containing Alex (playing one half of a gay Norwegian exploration duo) were sheer movie magic and contained some of the biggest laughs in the film (although I can hear shouts of “biased” coming at me through cyberspace). The scenes were improvised, they felt fresh and had a documentary feel to them. He has natural comic timing and is fantastically deadpan. The scene where he rolls laughing on top of a feuding Mangan and Thomas in the snow during the biscuit debacle is priceless. See the clip on the BtP facebook page – I dare you not to laugh. The rivalry between these two competing Artic exploration teams – both carbon-neutral, vegetarian, organic, and unsupported – provides without doubt a seam of riotous humour which is thoroughly mined.
Williams clearly hopes the film will have a political impact beyond the immediacy of its comedy. Helen Baxendale who produced and starred in the movie is in Copenhagen now adding her voice to that of the movie’s. While the whole planet watches and waits for concerted global action on climate change, Williams has engaged us in an issue that I had thought defied levity in both an entertaining and thought-provoking way. For that I say a heartfelt thank you.
To read more information on Beyond the Pole…
Follow link to see our interview with Director, David Williams!
SOURCE: Tack Debbie….I can’t wait to see it myself!!! (And yes you’re biased but we fully understand : )
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