Story posted November 02, 2006
By popular demand, the restored film The Far North, shot by Arctic explorer Donald B. MacMillan in the 1930s, '40s and '50s, will receive an encore screening at Bowdoin College at 7 p.m. Thursday, November 9, 2006 in the Visual Arts Center, Kresge Auditorium. The screening is free and open to the public.
The film documents MacMillan navigating the Schooner Bowdoin to Greenland, visiting coastal Labrador and Baffin Island along the way.
MacMillan's career spanned five decades, from 1908 to the late 1950s. He traveled extensively along coastal regions of Labrador, Baffin Island, and Greenland, using a movie camera to document what he saw. Back home, he edited the footage and used it in immensely popular lectures delivered to audiences across America.
The restoration of The Far North was the work of Audrey Amidon, Bowdoin Class of 2003, during the time she was the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum's John Gibbons intern and curatorial assistant for film. Amidon worked with digitized copies of MacMillan's lecture film, documenting the subject matter of every shot and identifying people and places using MacMillan's still photographs and a transcription of a lecture he delivered in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, on August 8, 1959.
After months of working on the silent film Amidon surveyed the Museum's audio tapes and discovered an unpreserved recording labeled "Mac's lecture." The Museum sent the 45-year-old tape to an audio restoration expert who digitized it. Upon listening to it, Amidon discovered that it was a recording of MacMillan delivering the Boothbay lecture.
Amidon reunited the film and restored audio track, and the resulting film is as close as one can come to experiencing a Donald B. MacMillan lecture.
The film premiered on the Bowdoin College campus in 2004, and has since been shown in Boothbay Harbor, Freeport, and Bustins Island, Maine; and in Battle Harbour, Labrador — places frequented by MacMillan. People who sailed with MacMillan, attended his lectures, or lived in communities he visited have since provided Bowdoin Arctic Studies staff additional information about the man and the footage.
The film preservation, and film and audio tape digitization were made possible by grants from Kane Lodge Foundation, Inc. Amidon's research and restoration efforts were funded in part by a John Gibbons Fellowship.
For more information about the film showing or about the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum's efforts to preserve other MacMillan films, call the Museum at 207-725-3416.