Lisa Beal's Thoughts on the ICEBOUND made-for-TV movie
MY RATING: 2.5 stars of 5 possible
AIRED: Sunday, 20 April 2003, 9-11pm EDT
PRODUCED BY: A Muse Entertainment Production with US distribution by Miramax Television and Jaffe-Braunstein Films
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Harvey Weinstein, Howard Braunstein, Michael Prupas
PRODUCER: Clara George
DIRECTED BY: Roger Spottiswoode
WRITTEN BY: Peter Pruce, Maria Nation
|Counterpart [role] in ICEBOUND book
|Dr. Jerri Nielsen||(same)|
|"Big" John Penney||(same)|
|Claire "Fingers" Furinski||Lisa Beal [computer technician]|
|"Trash"||James "Pick" Evans [recycling specialist]|
Floyd Washington [utility/repairman]|
"Nuclear" Nick Starinski [scientist]|
|COMPOSITE: Wendy Beeler [cook]|
Masterman [station manager]|
|Sarah Kemp||COMPOSITE: ?|
|Dr. Kathy Miller
|Dr. Wil Silva
| Patient #2
MOST FAVORITE ASPECTS OF THE FILM
- Appearance/scale/coloration was 100%
authentic (except as noted below)!
Amazing attention to detail, down to the awful 1970-vintage wallpaper.
made me homesick for Pole!
A little liberal license was used for the doctors quarters
(opened up for camera access/angles; the real doctor's quarters real door
and is less spacious than the movie version)
- Ditto for the galley/90 South Club set. In real life they are not on
the same floor.
real thing (NSF patches visible, etc.) Just as well: it was COLD
during the making of this film.
All involved get kudos for filming
under physically demanding conditions.
Again, excellent choices: no trees visible, snow everywhere, etc.
LEAST FAVORITE ASPECTS
- Computer and camera gear was not at all like the real thing.
all appearances, setting up the satellite links was easy.
scene show a string of five snowmobiles where many more were used in
the real airdrop.
All equipment used in
the real airdrop recovery left
and return to the dome via the garage arch.
My guess: there was not
enough time/money to do the garage arch set. Too bad!
is a shame that none of the actors (or, at least writers) had a chance to
talk to the real Polies, particularly Ms. Sarandon and Mr. Devine (who portrayed the doctor and "Big", respectively).
Even an hour or two watching Polie television appearances would
have aligned their performances with reality. In early 2001, these folks
were all over the dial, gang! Anybody who remembers their interviews will
know you 'got it wrong'.
By all accounts in the book -- did
any of these folks even READ IT? -- it would have been WAY out of character for Big John (ever the gentleman)
to burst in on the doctor while she was showering.
As for Susan Sarandon's portrayal of Dr. Nielsen as whiney, bitchy and insensitive
at almost every turn, I can only say that she never would have portrayed
Dr. Nielsen as such a disagreeable and unlikeable person if the two of them
had met before the filming. Perhaps that was the doing of the writers, perhaps
Ms. Sarandon misinterpreted the personality of the doctor (or put too much
of herself in the part). Anybody this disturbed would have been filtered
out of the selection process by psychological exams long before they ever
The secondary and minor characters were generalized composites
of several people in the book, except for 'geek in residence' "Fingers" Furinski
(who clearly represents computer technician Lisa Beal) and "Trash" (who is
just as clearly "Pick" Evans).
To sum up: "thumbs up" for
portrayals of "Fingers" and "Trash", but for
Sarandon's vitriolic portrayal of the doctor, an upraised finger (yes, THAT finger!) to the actress/writer/director responsible.
[Pardon my 'polar restraint'. Maybe, THAT'S where the name "Fingers" comes from! :^) ]
sets, costumes and most props are true to form, the words and pronunciation
is downright incorrect. A brief conversation with Polies (or a visit to a
dictionary, for "Pixel" Pete's sake!) would have avoided crazy-sounding verbals
goofs (like saying SKWAH vs SKOO-ah for the name of the Antarctic scavenger
bird, in reference to the "Elvis" category of recyclables).
Also, the departing doctor leaves in November, not just before the
for the winter. The "ask if you do not know" rule applies. (NSF or the 1999
winterover crew would have gladly helped out, and it probably would not have
cost more than a few emails or phone calls). Again, poor use of
resources hurt quality of the quality of the result!
IS LOST” scenes portray Polies as unnecessarily careless. Everybody
who goes outside at Pole must carry a radio when leaving the safety
of the buildings (or the dome). I assure you that the moment Sarah discovered
Hugh, she would have called Comms to call off the search. SIDE QUESTION:
How come Hugh, Sarah, Rafe, and Morris don't have nicknames?
at Pole are co-ed, for the most part, but have enclosed stalls. The doctor
never would have seen Big John’s (or anyone else’s) private parts outside
of the context of a medical exam.
BIG NEWS of Doc’s [possible] cancer was broken at a weekly all-hands
meeting, not a poetry slam or other social event.
FLOWERS were not delivered with the airdrop. Doc got the real thing!
- THE ROVER CAM -- a video camera
with robotic controls and auto-tracking of a memorized shape (like a person's
face) -- was never shown in the movie.
- "FINGER MAGIC" was never seen here! Fingers
is shown with a garden variety camcorder and laptop, making the whole
technical side look easier than it was. The task of getting the computer,
microscope, and videoconference systems was definitely "plug and play" on
the mid-1990 vintage gear we had at Pole. The setup was not as easy as putting
together the off-the-shelf webcams or computer-happy microscopes of today
Another thing: "Fingers" did not do this alone. Folks like astronomer Charlie
Kaminski and handyman Ken Lobe were equal partners in the success of both
the pre-airdrop and post-airdrop microscope-computer-videoconference systems.
300 CLUB never had bathing suits. Folks were ‘butt naked’ when they
joined, and the initiation was co-ed. No ‘dance around the May Pole’ here.
by the way: the fabric of a sauna-soaked suit would probably rob the body
of tremendous amounts of heat, a very bad idea at -100F. This stunt is actually
LESS dangerous in the buff (except for boots, of course).
On a personal note: it only got below –100F twice during the 1999 polar
winter. The first time was 05 May 1999 and the real “Fingers” was serving
(and taste-testing) margaritas in the galley. She had just enough alcohol
in her to realize she was not in a good condition to do the 300 Club.
On the second occasion, chemo sessions were in full swing, so “Fingers”
was not willing to risk injury when she was needed for the videoconferencing;
frostbitten fingers were not an option! If I ever get back to Pole, I really WOULD like to join the 300 Club!
POETRY SLAM was started by Big John Penney and others, not Dr. Kathy
Miller. Kathy was, however, delighted to embrace this aspect of Polie
SOCKS were not our gift to Doc. We
threw a ‘hat party’ to make the most of her new hairless look. Where life
handed her a lemon, we tried to make lemonade (to voice our support of our
HEAD SHAVING was not something Big did. Several of the women on station
did this to keep Doc’s hair from looking clumpy as it came out in big
lumps. We wanted to help Jerri put
the loss of her beautiful head of hair behind her quickly (as well as get
good samples of hair for a wig she would likely get in New Zealand on her
return stateside. It was an act of kindness, and Big would have helped
because he has a big heart (the REAL reason for his nickname). For what
it’s worth, Susan Sarandon looked more like Doc in this scene than in any
other in the movie; her physical resemblance to Jerri is uncanny, and
represents an excellent casting.
FADES were purely digital, and did not manifest themselves as snowy
pictures. Too bad nobody asked us!
- “SIT SHIVA”
AND MOURN FOR SEVEN DAYS is probably not an accurate description of what
“Fingers” would do. (I did ‘cry little ice cubes’ while leaning on the fire shack (one of the orange
buildings under the South Pole dome) as Jerri left.
FULL ROTATION of staff happened when the rescue plane arrived. Also: the
weather was foggy with very poor visibility on that day. The difficulties faced by the rescuers
were played down tremendously (and this is a shame)!
SUSAN KOMEN FOUNDATION public service announcement (PSA) that Susan
Sarandon made after the movie was very appropriate. Hats off to whoever made this happen!
- Ditto on the Y-Me PSA at the midway mark (at least on WBBM here in
- BARRY OR BURY? - Is it my imagination
or is the name Barry Columbus ("the southernmost Cree man") a play on the
phrase "Bury Columbus?" Could this be a subliminal message to native Americans?
Inside humor? Inquiring minds want to know.