Arctic Ending, Explained: Does Overgård Survive?

‘Arctic’ is a survival movie directed by Joe Penna starring Mads Mikkelsen in the lead role. It is written by Penna and Ryan Morrison and set in the wilderness of the Arctic Circle. The 2018 film follows Overgård, a pilot whose plane crashed in the snowy parts of the Arctic. Overgård is stranded alone in the wilderness and must rely on limited resources until help arrives. However, when a rescue helicopter’s co-pilot is injured, Overgård takes it upon himself to get her to safety. The film delves into some complex themes supplemented with minimalistic filmmaking and sparse dialog, adding to the situation’s gravity. If you are pondering about Overgård’s survival and the deeper meaning behind his journey in ‘Arctic’ here is everything you need to know! SPOILERS AHEAD!

Arctic Plot Synopsis

The film opens with Overgård, a pilot who finds himself stranded in the Arctic Circle. Overgård’s plane crashed in the Arctic Circle, and he is bidding time until help arrives. He uses the wreckage of his aircraft as shelter to survive the harsh weather of the Arctic. We slowly follow Overgård through his daily routine. Overgård has set up several fishing traps and relies on them for a steady food supply. He quietly eats the fish in isolation, wondering about his chances of survival or past actions. However, the film does not provide insights into Overgård’s thoughts as he is alone and stranded.

Overgård explores his surroundings during the afternoons and notes down the landmarks around him. Overgård maps his surroundings in hopes of finding help. Overgård also leaves messages for his rescue using a distress beacon in the evenings. He powers the beacon with a hand-crank dynamo. However, he does not receive a response from the other side. It becomes evident that Overgård has been repeating this routine for several days, with his hopes of getting rescued slowly dwindling. However, Overgård keeps his cool and tries his best to remain put despite the harsh weather conditions.

One day, Overgård’s fishing line is raided by a polar bear. He loses his food supply and is forced to amplify his efforts to be recused. To his relief, his distress beacon receives a response. A helicopter soon arrives to rescue him, leading Overgård to believe that the worst is behind him. However, the weather conditions interrupt the helicopter’s landing, causing the helicopter to crash near Overgård’s shelter. Overgård rushes to the crash site and discovers that the pilot is dead. However, the co-pilot, a Young Woman, survived the crash.

The Young Woman is alive but unconscious from the crash. She is gravely injured, and Overgård dresses her wounds. He drags her back to his shelter, where she rests. Although the Young Woman regains consciousness, she does not understand English. It is implied that the Young Woman is an Iceland native and Overgård does not know her language. However, the Young Woman conveys her well-being by squeezing Overgård’s hand.

Overgård returns to the helicopter’s wreckage and finds several useful supplies, such as food and medical equipment. He also discovers a photograph of the Young Woman, the pilot, and a child. It is implied that the helicopter pilot and the Young Woman are married and have a son. Overgård carries the supplies and the photo to his shelter. After checking up on the Young Woman, Overgård realizes she desperately needs medical help. Overgård locates a seasonal refuge on the map and decides to trek there with the Young Woman. However, the duo will have to survive the days-long trek in the cold weather, requiring immaculate planning.

Arctic Ending: Does Overgård Reach the Camp? Is the Young Woman Dead?

After leaving the plane’s wreckage that served as his shelter, Overgård ventures into the wilderness, leaving behind the shelter’s comforts. Overgård takes limited resources with him on the journey. He uses the sled he found in the helicopter wreckage to transport the Young Woman. However, the duo arrives at a steep slope that Overgård cannot climb with the Young Woman. As a result, he is forced to take the longer route.

Overgård and the Young Woman spend the night at a cave but run into trouble after attracting a polar bear. Overgård drives the polar bear away, but the Young Woman’s condition worsens in the morning. Overgård believes that the Young Woman is dead. As a result, he carries on alone, searching desperately for help. Overgård falls into a crevasse and falls unconscious. After waking up, Overgård escapes from the crevasse but sustains a nasty injury to his leg. He returns to the site where he left the Young Woman and discovers she is still alive.

In the end, Overgård has an emotional outburst and apologizes to the Young Woman for leaving her behind. Overgård has spent nearly all his energy and is heavily injured to carry on. Nonetheless, Overgård finds motivation from the Young Woman’s presence and takes it upon himself to ensure that she receives help and is recused.

Overgård’s emotional apology to the Young Woman underlines his perseverance and commitment to saving a person’s life. However, Overgård likely considers himself responsible for the death of the Young Woman’s husband and her injury. Therefore, it is important for him to help the Young Woman return to her son. As a result, it is easy to see the emotional bond that the two humans facing overwhelming odds to survive forge in the face of adversity.

Does Overgård Survive?

In the film’s final moments, Overgård spots a helicopter in the distance. He uses the last remaining flare in his possession to attract the attention of the helicopter pilots. However, his efforts fail as the helicopter flies away without noticing the distressed survivors. As a result, Overgård becomes desperate and starts a fire by burning his parka, which is shielding him from the cold. Ultimately, Overgård is exhausted and fails to catch the helicopter’s attention. He gives up and collapses beside the Young Woman. Overgård passes out, holding the Young Woman’s hand, embracing his impending death.

In the last frame, we see the helicopter landing behind Overgård and the Young Woman. The final scene heavily implies that Overgård’s efforts weren’t in vain, and he succeeded in attracting the helicopter. As a result, Overgård and the Young Woman were likely rescued from the Arctic wilderness and survived the grueling challenge. Overgård’s relentless efforts to save himself and, more importantly, the Young Woman underlines the pilot’s unwavering spirit.

Overgård fights till the very end to ensure the duo’s survival. Therefore, the movie ending with him and the Young Woman getting rescued is a satisfying pay-off for the story’s conflict. Overgård would likely have never ventured out from his shelter if he had not met the Young Woman. Thus, the film points out that humans feel empowered in each other’s presence. The Young Woman’s mere presence motivates Overgård to singlehandedly mount a rescue for the duo. Thus, the film thoroughly explores the nature of humanity and the relationship between two humans facing the same adversity. Overgård’s story serves as a testament to the human spirit that motivates him to survive against all odds.

Read More: Is Arctic (2018) Based on a True Story?