Operation Arctic – Review

Image Courtesy of the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival
Image Courtesy of the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival

As a parent, the premise of Operation Arctic is terrifying. Three children, ages 13 and 8, stowaway on a helicopter headed to a rescue mission on a remote arctic island. Because no one knows they are there, they get left behind and no one even knows where to look for them. The film follows them as they learn to fend for themselves and survive while they wait to be, hopefully, rescued. I panic a bit when I know no one will be home to immediately greet my kids when they arrive from the bus. However, as a kid, I would have found this idea exciting and adventurous. Do I think it is appropriate for family viewing?


This film was intense and, at times, scary. That, combined with the subtitles, makes me hesitate to recommend this movie for younger children. There are a few intense close encounters with a hungry mama polar bear. The adventure begins after a schoolyard fight that results in one of the main character retaliating against a bully by hitting him in the head with a hockey stick. Other than the scariness and mild violence, this film is wholesome, the language is clean, there is no sex, no drinking, no drugs and no smoking.

The children are very realistic in there sibling interactions. They fight and are downright mean to each other sometimes. They also make stupid, childish choices that put them in danger. But their love for each other is evident in the care they take of each other. Over the course of the movie, they have time to examine their own behavior and resolve to make better choices.

One really neat aspect of this film is the fact that it was filmed on location, not in a studio. Many of the nature shots are real wild animals and the weather, including the blizzards, is real arctic weather. Adults may need to suspend their belief a bit in places, but what is an adventure film without some impossible feats?

I would recommend this film for a school age and up family. The adults will enjoy it as much as the children.

If you children enjoy the film and want more, the book of the same name is available at Hennepin County Library. However, if they like the film because they identify with 13-year-old Julia, the book’s Julia is a boy named Torgeir.

Operation Arctic is director Grethe Bøe-Waal’s sophomore film. Her first feature film was another family film The Ten Lives of Titanic the Cat in 2007. I searched for that film, but couldn’t find it even to purchase.

This film was originally reviewed as part of the Childish Films section of the 2016 Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival. FFTC was provided with tickets to facilitate our review. Find more movie reviews from past film festivals here


Language: Norwegian (with English subtitles)
Runtime: 91 min

You can view the trailer for the film below.

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  1. Pingback: Family Movie Night - Quick Reviews and Parental Guidance - Family Fun Twin Cities

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