A N T A R C T I C A
an inevitable film treatment
by Jim Leftwich
Starring either Bill Paxton, Bill Pullman (or both), and either Helen Hunt or Bridgett Fonda (or both). Supporting roles by David Carradine, Donald Sutherland, and goofy geek sidekick guy.
The setting: Overwintering at the South Pole
Concept: Disaster movie meets The Shining meets The X Files.
A group of scientists are seen cheerfully unloading their gear, all ready for their stint at the pole. Everyone's happy and we get to meet all the main characters. Paxton-Pullman arrives via chopper, shouting as he climbs out at his goofy geek sidekick (played by that goofy geek sidekick guy) to grab the equipment and "not break it this time!"
The sky is impossibly blue. Cut to scene with scientists cavorting with penguins.
Meanwhile Hunt-Fonda, having been there already for a year, won't come out of the quonset-hut lab, where she's engaged in "serious work." Oh yeah, she left her boyfriend behind to come down here and bury herself in work.
David Carradine arrives, leading a small group of "scientists" separate from the rest. He looks suspicious. He looks really suspicious, just so you won't miss seeing it. The others speculate on who "the spooks" are, but hey, this is the beginning of the movie and they're distracted from their speculation when goofy geek sidekick guy trips and drops the group's only case of somethingorother. Damn you, goofy geek sidekick guy! A penguin arrives and everybody forgives.
The plane leaves and ominous music swells to emphasize that they're all now pretty much screwed. Within five minutes there's very little sun and the rest of the movie is set pretty much in the dark. The spooks are down there to investigate something that's been discovered by satellite several miles from the South Pole Station. The rest of the scientists are kept in the dark (they make puns about this) as to what's going on.
Email and internet connections are suddenly lost. Meanwhile Paxton-Pullman and Hunt-Fonda aren't getting along. Well, there's sexual tension, but they're openly hostile towards each other.
Goofy geek sidekick guy has monitoring equipment that allows him to gradually pick up on what's really going on down there. He tells Paxton-Pullman and Hunt-Fonda and from then on they're a team.
Something is making people sick. Not the main characters at first, just extras. But finally Hunt-Fonda begins to get ill and Paxton-Pullman and goofy geek sidekick guy have to get access to a SnoCat and go see what's up at the spook site.
Ominous music is playing as we see Hunt-Fonda lying in a cot, alone and sick. Something must be just outside the door. The music gets louder...
Oh, it was just goofy geek sidekick guy's penguin.
Meanwhile, Donald Sutherland is in an office back in Washington, directing the spooks at the secret site. We learn that there's been a crash of some large unidentified craft that's leaking fluorocarbons, destroying the ozone over the pole. He says the regular scientists might have to "succumb" to the elements in order to preserved this secret. There's no exposition on why this needs to be a secret, but it involves international relations. The Russians, we find out, are our allies, and their scientists bring over supplies from their station.
But, get this, our enemies are... the Chinese! Of course! They're trying to get to the crash site too so they can claim the technology (and implicitly the technological advantage of the century).
(Insert Russians bring vodka and getting drunk here)
But Paxton-Pullman and goofy geek sidekick guy manage to strap infrared cameras and audio recording equipment to a group of emperor penguins and herd them towards the crash site. The penguins overwhelm the site in a combo dramatic/slapstick scene, with spooks trying to catch the penguins and the penguins beaming back video and sound to Paxton-Pullman and goofy geek sidekick guy. They capture enough as proof that they high-five. Alright! Woohoo!
Now it's a race/chase back to the station where they must transmit the truth back to Hunt-Fonda's ex-boyfriend, who's a scientist too! But a good guy who's standing by, ready to expose the truth!
Hunt-Fonda is really, really sick now. She's not wearing any makeup at this point and looks as bad as a normal person. She must somehow muster the strength to contact her ex-bf, having to go outside and rewire a transmitter tower (The spooks had cut the wire! The bastards!).
The last file is sent just as the spooks arrive back at the station with guns. They receive a message from Donald Sutherland saying, "Let go. Just let it go." And all dejected like, realize that now the whole world is going to know about the site and the technology will have to be shared among all nations, bringing peace and prosperity and an end to their cool, elite spook jobs.
The Russians also have some of whatever it was that goofy geek sidekick guy dropped and spilled early on and lo and behold - it cures Hunt-Fonda.
Paxton-Pullman and Hunt-Fonda exchange barbs, but it's clear they're in luv.
Suddenly winter's over and the sun is up! Right on! And here comes the helicopter.
They all board to leave. Goofy geek sidekick guy has to say goodbye to his penguin friend. Paxton-Pullman and Hunt-Fonda shake their heads, then embrace.
Camera pulls away, eventually revealing the gigantic crash site a mile across a few miles from the station. Caravans of vehicles are converging on it from all directions.
Cut to credits.
©2001 Jim Leftwich - All Rights Reserved