In an age eve before VHS, people flocked in droves to hear Donald MacMillan speak about his experiences in the Arctic. "The Far North," a reconstructed film with restored footage from MacMillan's voyage to Greenland, will now bring MacMillan's story to a whole new audience. The film's audio track is a recovered transcript of a lecture MacMillan delivered at Boothbay Opera House in 1959, according to the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum.
Though an icy feature, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum's DVD of explorer Donald MacMillan's travels aboard the Schooner Bowdoin is expected to be received warmly in the Brunswick community and among the Inuit groups depicted in the film.
Director of the Arctic Museum Susan Kaplan explained how the DVD has immense value to the Inuit communities of Labrador and Greenland that appear in MacMillan's footage.
"In many cases, people who are now adults will see themselves in the film, only when MacMillan was filming they were children or teenagers," said Kaplan. "The film, then, documents community and family histories."
Not only does the film preserve human elements of the Inuit community, but it also revives footage from between 1920 and 1950 that documents species that are now endangered.
Said Kaplan, "animals such as cod that were once bountiful" are "now protected because of over fishing."
The DVD profiles some of the Bowdoin crew which included a number of college students, as well as people they meet, wildlife they encounter, and places they visit.
MacMillan's schooner is another lingering artifact of his legacy.
"The Schooner Bowdoin still sails north, and is part of the Maine Maritime Academy's fleet," said Kaplan. "The cadets love sailing the schooner and they too will be excited to see what it was like onboard the schooner when MacMillan sailed her."
Recent Bowdoin graduates were essential to the DVD's production.
Hillary Hooke '09 wrote the segment of the DVD that introduces MacMillan's life and located photographs of the explorer.
Another graduate, Audrey Amidon '03 spent months studying the original film and reconstructing damaged sections. The former anthropology and film student was also the first to recognize that what the Museum originally thought as a copy of MacMillan's notes was actually a transcript of his lecture.
The discovery led to the joining of the silent film and the lecture, and these along with Hooke's introduction, constitute "The Far North."
The DVD is now available for purchase for $12.50 from the Museum gift shop both in person and online. For more information, call Amy Hawkes at (207) 725-3416, or visit bowdoin.edu/arcticmuseum.