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The Thing in the polar night

Every year in late February and early March, at the South Pole research station, the last flight leaves and the last sun sets. Neither will return for months. How do you mark such an occasion? With a horror film festival, of course.

The Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, located on the southernmost point on the planet, is a dangerous place. Never mind that it’s one of the coldest places in the world, never mind the constant blizzards, and never mind that the rotation of the planet makes the atmosphere bulge at the equator and thus squishes it at the poles. The sun rises once a year, and sets once a year. The winter is six months long, and the residents of the research station are alone in the dark until flights resume.

How do you mark the beginning of such isolation? Well, with characteristic scientist humour, you have a film marathon. And not just any film marathon, but three specific films:

  • The Thing from Another World
  • The Thing (John Carpenter’s version)
  • The Thing (the 2011 remake)

Yup, you’re locked up in darkness, without a chance of escape, so of course you watch a horror film set in the Antarctic. About people locked up in darkness. Without a chance of escape.

The sun finally rose over the South Pole last week. It will not set again until next March.

Categories: Arts & recreation Earth & sky Places Sciences Screen & stage The poles & oceans

The Generalist

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and am curious about most things.

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