The end of the 19th century was a time of great discoveries, a dizzying year of incredible technological progress. It was also a time when classical explorers and adventurers discovered almost everything that could already be discovered, stepped into almost every corner of the world and little was left available to those still eager for glory. Of course, there were still the South and North Poles that no one had yet stepped into in 1897 when the action of this adventurous drama based on a true event and real people takes place. From today’s perspective, the venture envisioned by Swedish engineer, physicist, adventurer and man of restless spirit Salomon August Andree seems utterly insane, and he certainly looked even crazier at the turn of the 19th century.
Famous Swedish filmmaker Jan Troell (Oscar nominee for the legendary “Untvardary” and for screenwriting and directing) decided to tell this amazing story, and of course the main role was played by the most famous Swedish actor of all time, Max von Sydow. In this epic adventure drama, we follow the attempt of Andree and two equally crazy enthusiasts who decided to be the first to reach the North Pole in a balloon. He was convinced that he would be able to cross the northernmost point of the globe in a balloon, and his mission met with euphoric support in Sweden as the Scandinavian country seriously stalled in the Arctic-Antarctic race for Norwegians, Americans and adventurers from competing countries.
Troell brilliantly portrayed the whole environment and historical period, the complete euphoria and madness that reigned over the race (let the southerners go to Africa, we Nordics will go north !, says Andree at one point), and when the situation begins to unravel as passengers from the balloon they did not expect, it will turn into a real struggle for survival and survival. As much as “Ingenjör Andrées luftfärd” “The Flight of the Eagle” is a classic epic, adventure drama, it is a film that questions the motivation of a man who took two other young men on such a mission, which was practically doomed in the beginning. Was he a glorious manipulator who set out on this crazy journey even though he knew in advance that something like that was impossible to do, but once he announced he was getting into it, because of honor and ego he couldn’t give up even though he felt it was death sentence.
Much of this is, of course, fictionalized, and “The Eagle’s Flight” was filmed, based on the 1967 literary bestseller of the same name by Per Olof Sundman. It is a story about the human spirit and drive, the need to go into the unknown, even if it means mortal danger, and Troell, just like in his most famous films, the previously mentioned “Utvandrarna” or “Emigrants” and the sequel “The New Land” , managed to show brilliantly how small and insignificant a man really is in relation to the size of the world and what he sometimes tries. The story is told very well here, realistically, and Von Sydow won the Best Actor award in Venice while the film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Outside of the English-speaking world.
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