Star Light, Star Light, Who Will Polaris Shine on Tonight?

10 Dec

PolarisScreened at Whistler Film Festival

A new Ice Age has fallen upon the world, and the only ray of hope is with a girl (Viva Lee) and a white bear in the movie Polaris. Whether the survivors of humanity are aware of what she represents, she’s no messiah. She is named Sumi by those who became her friends, and all she wants is to find the omnivore who kept her safe when her family disappeared. That’s what I’m assuming; although we don’t get told much about her arrival to this world, to reveal too much would be bad.

Whatever caused this great freeze doesn’t need to be explained either. The opening title cards in writer/director Kirsten Carthew‘s sci-fi film suggests climate change created this post-apocalyptic realm. Although this movie has a lot of obtuse moments to suggest otherwise, the gorgeous cinematography of the Great White North will blow you away. I surmise Nature moves in cycles. That is, this catastrophe was not man made.

As a result, perhaps Sumi’s coming is preordained. She can commune with the natural world, heal others by touch and offer a ray of hope. In regards to how she interacts with it, there’s no need for high budgeted special effects shots to sell the idea.

Elsewhere, survivors are doing everything they can by salvaging discarded relics of humanity’s past in order to stay mobile and survive. They attack other groups for supplies and eke out new territory. And as for why some continue to live in the frozen climate is anybody’s guess. One tribe known as the Morad controls much of the trading here and have some interest in Sumi, and she fights back–perhaps believing her beloved mother bear is there.

As for what she finds, well, that would be revealing too much. I’m hopeful the two will reunite. But instead, much of the final act is a war torn right off the visual template that defines a Mad Max movie. But unlike this film series which is very punk in its design, what we see in Carthew’s film feels very primal. That is, we’re presented with a tale that reminds us of when humanity was rising out of the stone age, or in this film’s case had to survive an ice age from long ago. But this time, there’s tech to assist whereas Sumi only has her five senses and what she can use from the land.

As a result, I think this work is about the birth of a new kind of Wendigo. Instead of a traditional monster, we see a protector of the arctic land. The way Sumi screams makes me think she’s one in training, and what Polaris reveals is more than a fable. Also, I’m also reminded of the one bright celestial sphere that is part of the Great Bear constellation. In other traditions, it’s the Star of Bethlehem that I’m sure other film goers may want to connect this movie with. When considering all the hardships she has to face, maybe this movie is more about being a guiding light. Sumi’s transformation is at the heart of the film, and to witness how she manages to go on without Ursa Major is very important since she’s that little bear who needs to discover for herself in how to survive on her own.

4 Stars out of 5

Polaris Movie Trailer

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