The Expedition That Never Returned from the Arctic and Forged the Legend of the Beasts

In the mid-1800s, two ships, the Erebus and the Terror, sailed from the United Kingdom with an almost impossible mission: to discover the passage of the Northwest, the greediest route to unite the Atlantic and the Pacific, the gateway to commerce in Asia. Soon after, the track was lost, the ships ran aground on the ice and Captain Franklin passed away. Since then they have multiplied theories and legends about his whereabouts and the journey of his crew to survive. At this point the series is born, a terrifying story of cold, hunger, barbarism and diseases that killed 129 men.

Produced by Ridley Scott and based on the novel by Dan Simmons, it mixes history, fiction and supernatural elements with an overwhelming technical and visual display. The actors Jared Harris and Tobias Menzies lead the cast of this colonialist adventure that has fascinated researchers for years. In 2014 and 2016, the boats were located. The discovery, beyond detecting a rare disease in the Marines, has not helped to decipher many mysteries but to resuscitate the interest in the expedition that never returned from the Arctic and transformed humans into beasts.

It is a series that mixes a historical fact with fiction, a lot of legend-fiction and adds supernatural elements, how has the process been since receiving the script?

Jared Harris: Although it is based on historical facts, it is still a work of fiction. I received the first script, I loved it, it was very well written and I met with the showrunners to know what they were going to do with the following episodes. I enjoyed very much. After that meeting, I read the book and I loved it, especially how it manages to take a real fact and then intercalate the supernatural and terror elements.

Tobias Menzies: Yes, of course, the series is a fusion of all these elements, both the real part and the elements of fiction. We have a base, which is the novel by Dan Simmons, which also gives us not that supernatural aspect, but of terror, that is part of the series. Then there are some wonderful scripts that make, through merging these elements, create a series very different from those we have seen so far. To the public, what he is going to do is take him on an adventure to a space that, on the one hand, is the Arctic, a physical space that is already interesting to see, but it is also a journey to a psychological and personal terrain. The one that we are going to be with these characters trapped for years in an inhospitable space that forces them to go eliminating those layers of civilization and confronting what they really have inside.

Some people can even see similarities with the first installment of ‘The Walking Dead’. That flight, the way to face the survival and what it says about the human condition

Jared Harris: All the stories are about the human condition. It is something they all have in common, but I do understand the parallel with ‘The Walking Dead’. It is a survival issue. In this case, for example, when you put the characters in extreme situations, you find out who they are but they also find out, they even get surprised when they discover whom they really are. Moreover, that only happens in such extreme situations.

Tobias Menzies: Yes, both are AMC series and there are elements that can be compared. Although there are some points in the genre that they share, I believe that we in the series are going in another direction. The elements that stand out in ‘The Terror’ are those of the psychological thriller. Now, if one sees a series, as the title indicates, one realizes that there are a series of different types of horrors and terrors, elements such as the creature, but also the human beings themselves, the men, who are in this crew. , that when they are in this trapped space they become beasts in themselves. These are some of the themes explored by the series, the struggle of man and nature but also the struggle with that beast, the fight against that inner beast that we can have. In addition, that can lead us to reflect on where we speak of civilization when we stop being civilized and become beasts. Terror has different faces and aspects within the series; anything that inspires terror interests us.

The history goes back to the time of the great British Empire, to colonialism. Now, however, the United Kingdom is experiencing a nationalist retreat, how do they experience this evolution of their country?

Jared Harris: The series takes place in an era of cultural imperialism and this is at the heart of the story. It is a time when the United Kingdom was tensing the muscles and looking to expand the empire, they were doing it through trade and not with a gun, as they did before. Of course, it is one of the main themes of the series. Regarding what is happening now with Brexit, I prefer not to comment.

Tobias Menzies: Yes, indeed the United Kingdom is in negotiations to leave the European Union. I, obviously, am not a politician, and I can only say that I did not vote in favour of this. Focusing on the series, these are themes that we see both in the present and throughout history. Leaving the EU responds, largely, to the fear that comes from outside, to immigration, to the feeling that someone is coming to our country that does not belong. However, in the series, it is a similar theme seen from another historical perspective.

It narrates a period in which the United Kingdom, the British crown, looked outwards and not inwards. In addition, that outward look was from the point of view of colonialism, it is not necessarily positive; there was a negative and even destructive effect. We see it in our crew who arrive at a site, who do not understand it at all, but even so they think themselves morally superior, in a very arrogant way, to the inhabitants of the Arctic and what quickly shows them the place is that the way they understand the world does not work there. In addition, they have to learn that.

Throughout history we have seen this conversation between cultural, they have to navigate to find a way to understand, has remained. It is perhaps interesting to see the series that raises that perspective from the present look when we have the UK that is shrinking and moving away, closing the doors, which change of direction of the England that looked out and now looks inside.

In this era of globalization of the series, one of the best news is to see so many British actors and actresses on screen. They are always an insurance of quality in the interpretation and they are receiving nominations and awards, what is the secret, the theatrical tradition?

Tobias Menzies: It is difficult being a British actor to say what the recipe for success is, but it is true that there is now a very high representation of British actors and actresses in the series. Yes, I believe that part of that success may be due to tradition and the formation of actors, in our country it is common for all to go through a dramatic training school while in the US this is not always the case. It is also true that we have a strong tradition of theatre and that many actors previously dedicate and during their career many years to the theatre.

The Terror with the two expedition ships surrounded by ice

But I also believe that they are cycles. In the 70s, it was the American actors who were revolutionizing the world of the big screen and we were lagging behind, we were learning from them, they were teaching us. Now it is true that there is a boom of British actors, but on the big screen, at the cinema level, American actors take most of the cake. I would like to see it as a creative exchange in which we help each other to be better.

Jared Harris: We might be cheaper (laughs). It is something that is happening recently, it is true that it has something to do with the preparation we have in the United Kingdom, and we consider it a vocational thing. Also, having done a lot of theatre helps you, when you do many works of different styles you are used to receiving material that is not familiar to you and you have that feeling of panic. I do not know if you’ve seen a British Restoration comedy, but when you read that script, it makes you panic and the first thing you think is how the hell you’re going to do that character. That helps when confronting now new things that come to you.

It suggests that not only is there a wage gap between men and women, but also because of the interpreter’s country of origin. Did he suffer it in his ‘Mad Men’ stage?

Jared Harris: America, of course, is a much bigger territory and industry, so they can afford to reward the actors more than the British do. I was making a joke about the fact that we are cheaper, but I will tell you that the wage gap between men and women is a real problem. There is no reason for a person who has worked on a paper of the same size and rolled the same day, do not charge the same. That has to be solved.

The series is one of AMC’s most ambitious projects for this year. It has been shot in Budapest and on an island in Croatia. The actors joked with the cold during the recordings in the middle of winter in the Hungarian capital. “We imagine that not as much as in the Arctic, but we spent a lot,” they recalled. Both highlight the technical deployment to recreate the ships, their interior, the ability to take a real story and build tension and terror from fiction.

In this stage of so many series, Harris he is convinced that he has all the elements to succeed. “It’s not a remake or a prequel or a sequel, it’s a completely original work, it’s what attracted me to the project, it’s very cool and the showrunners were determined to avoid the clichés, they were looking for a different way and angle to differentiate this series from the others, “he concludes.

 

 

Source: Cadena Ser