Think the upcoming snowstorm is scary? Imagine being stranded in the Arctic. That’s what Bleecker Street’s new film, “Arctic” portrays starring Mads Mikkelsen.
On Wednesday, January 16, The Knockturnal was fortunate enough to talk to the cast at Metrograph.
The Knockturnal: What about this project drew you to the film?
María Thelma Smáradóttir: I mean, the script! I got it sent from the director and it was really exciting and challenging to work in a really small cast. I mean there’s only two of us. So, I thought it was really exciting and the conditions as well.
Mads Mikkelsen: Well the combination of the story and Joe. I just simply loved the script. I thought it was brilliant and radical and touching. And then when I spoke to Joe, everything I hoped he would do with the film was exactly what he wanted to do.
The Knockturnal: What was the most challenging part about filming?
María Thelma Smáradóttir: The weather! The weather was so unpredictable because you know, you really don’t know what’s coming for you – so we had to go with the flow. Before noon it would be maybe sunny, which wasn’t that good because then all the snow would go away – so we really wanted it to be windy and cold. And then in the afternoon, it could be like really rainy and we wouldn’t be able to do scene so we really had to just go with the flow.
Mads Mikkelsen: I mean the brutality of the nature obviously, but also the mere factor that you’re alone. Constantly alone, I mean I threw a ball and it never bounces back it, it just ends up it the void somewhere. And then luckily, a young woman shows up in the film and the ball is thrown back, weekly – but it’s thrown.
The Knockturnal: Were you at all prepared for the weather?
María Thelma Smáradóttir: I was born and raised in Iceland so I didn’t train for it. This weather right here outside [New York] is like summer! I’m so grateful because it’s so warm!! In the car I was like, “I need to take off my jacket!”
Joseph Trapanese: The weather changed constantly! In the beginning we were chasing what we wanted and then we had to give up and say we’ll we get what we get and just had to be satisfied with that.
The Knockturnal: What do you want people to take away from the film?
María Thelma Smáradóttir: Maybe not necessarily a message, but a question. Really, what makes us human? How much would you be willing to help another person even if you don’t know the person? And the humanity of it, I think people should really spot that in the movie.
Joseph Trapanese: That is a great question! Wow, I really have to create my answer. I think one thing that makes me really proud of this movie, well there are two things when I think of the end of this movie. A – how delicate we are on this planet, you know, someone gets lost in the Arctic. I think anyone of us placed in that situation where it’s so dangerous – so there’s that how beautiful and dangerous the situation is. But also how there’s something beautiful about humanity in this movie. And the ending has a message about us helping each other being I don’t know good human beings, does that even make sense?!
Mads Mikkelsen: I want it so that if you sit in a basement or you sit somewhere else, I want you to kick open your door and go in and embrace other people.
The Knockturnal: Is that your favorite part about this film?
Joseph Trapanese: Yeah, I think one of the interesting parts about this film for me is how Mads character finds the energy to live – to stay alive. And for me there’s two thoughts for the score. One is I wanted to find this natural beauty so there’s some moments in the score that we call “the life theme” that even though he really is in this terrible situation, it’s this beautiful music. It’s how beautiful life is and being alive and how precious that is. But also, there’s a lot of music that has a lot of energy to it and a lot of movement because obviously, he has to get out of here. He has to save himself. So those are two of the things I visited when thinking about this film and the music.
The Knockturnal: Did you aim for the music to create a kind of “on the edge of your seat” vibe?
Joseph Trapanese: Well what I love about it is that there is both! There’s moments of rest, you know he’s resting and you’re thinking, “How is he going to get through this?” But then there are moments that yes – there’s high tension, there’s high anxiety and those situations, what I’m trying to do is not do too much with the music. Joe [Penna] and Ryan [Morrison] have crafted such a beautiful, tense edit. And the film itself is really tense so I’m just trying to support their suspense and not get in the way of allowing the audience to really get into the film but also giving the music some energy so that when they do get into it, there’s also another level that you could get to as a viewer.
The Knockturnal: Did you encounter any challenges while composing this?
Joseph Trapanese: Lots! You know one thing we knew we wanted was a lot of acoustic instruments, some orchestra instruments, in addition to an electronic palette. But he’s in such a foreign environment that, you know, I think hearing an orchestra is going to be very weird you know? Like he’s in the Arctic and he’s alone and then you hear a symphony orchestra of a hundred people playing it feels a little odd. So one of the big challenges I had was finding ways to take acoustic music, music played by live musicians, but then filter it or do something to it that made it feel like it was from another planet. So one thing I did, is that I would record musicians playing but then I would take a little speaker and put it in a water bottle and then put a special microphone on that water bottle and re-record is so then it was still people playing, so it’s still organic still people playing, but is been filtered through something foreign. Kind of an allegory for this movie, there’s nature there but they’re in this all so unnatural form of life, so that was definitely a challenge figuring out how to do that. And I did that with all sorts of things, I would put speakers in wood panels and metal – all this other sort of stuff, trying to find the right sound and the right way to do it. But it was really exciting being able to create like that!