• S.O.S. Eisberg versus S.O.S. Iceberg - two nations' visualizations of arctic landscapes

      Aloia, Kerstin Anne; Schell, Jennifer; Stanley, Sarah; Carr, Rich (2018-12)
      This project is a comparison of the perspectives on Arctic nature that are featured in the 1933 films S.O.S. Eisberg and S.O.S. Iceberg. I am arguing that the director of each version was influenced by his cultural background in visualizing the relationship between Arctic nature and the white explorers that encounter it in their films. Both Arnold Fanck, who created S.O.S. Eisberg, and Tay Garnett, who created S.O.S. Iceberg, worked with the same documentary footage that was filmed at Greenland's Arctic shores, but turned it into two different films. S.O.S. Eisberg turns the Arctic into a space whose hostile forces have to be confronted with the iron will of a leader who demands utmost loyalty from his followers, thus anticipating the leadership cult of the Nazi era. S.O.S. Iceberg portrays the Arctic as an alternative Western frontier that humans have to encounter as a collective who collaborates and facilitates a sense of community, which perpetuates the American self-identification as a frontier nation of explorers. Being aware of the backgrounds of these culture-specific visualizations not only explains the differences between the two films, but, on a larger scale, will teach us to understand the extend of the influence that our cultural background has on our understanding of and interaction with nature.