The opening sequence of Zero Kelvin scrolls across a bleak, vast Norwegian wilderness that is virtually inhospitable for men and most beasts. This white, magnificent landscape exudes tremendous beauty, but it also represents death for those foolish enough to fight its dominance. What happens to a civilized human being when he spends enough time is this environment? In this tightly constructed character study, director Hans Petter Moland explores the effect of this land on the fragile human psyche.
Gard Eisvold is a restless, poor young writer living in Oslo who decides to get a little more worldly by joining an Arctic fur-trapping expedition. Leaving behind his girlfriend, Eisvold travels to Greenland, where he’s confronted with the dual harshness of the elements and his profane station-captain, played with brilliant malevolence by the great Stellan Skårsgard. The captain doesn’t take kindly to having a violin-playing, poetry-writing college boy around the cabin, and he begins to torture Eisvold in a cunning if none too subtle fashion. Soon, of course, they’re at each other’s throats despite each needing the other’s help to survive the wilderness.