The Blinding Sea in Montpellier

The Blinding Sea in Montpellier

The French film tour of The Blinding Sea has started, with an initial lecture-screening at the Montpellier Business School, in the south of France. This film tour has received the financial support of the Centre culturel canadien, part of the Embassy of Canada in Paris, and is taking us to Paris, Grenoble, Montpellier, Toulouse and Perpignan, with additional visits to Carcassonne and Avignon. In some of these cities, there are going to be several lecture-screenings, not just one.

Place Sainte-Anne, Montpellier

Montpellier is a strikingly beautiful mid-sized city (population: 277,000) with safe walking for pedestrians. The feature image at the top of this blog shows the Place de la Comédie, which I photographed shortly after sundown.

My wife and I spent several days exploring the town.

The Château d’Ô, Montpellier.

We also walked to the Château d’Ô, in the northwestern part of town, on our way to the business school for the lecture-screening there.

It is particularly interesting for me to field questions from business audiences. True, The Blinding Sea is an epic biography about Roald Amundsen, providing important historical, scientific and healthcare evidence about his polar expeditions and casting new light on his two year apprenticeship with the Inuit of Gjoa Haven, Nunavut in Arctic Canada.

The film is also about how to launch and run a successful enterprise. I am presenting it as a case study, showing Amundsen as an agile leader, who left his comfort zone to enter a learning zone, devoting several years to an apprenticeship with the Inuit. He gained their trust, and they painstakingly shared with him their expert knowledge, which ultimately got him safely through the Northwest Passage and then to the South Pole and back.

Inuit throat singers Janet Aglukkaq and Robin Ikkutisluk performing in The Blinding Sea

Amundsen was from a Norwegian ship-owning family and had a commercial mindset. He brought to his polar expeditions a spirit of competition, discretion about his intentions, a strong sense of initiative and the drive to create durable value. He had to unlearn what he thought he knew, in order to learn from the Inuit. Since the film places the accent on access to knowledge and cross-cultural sharing, it doesn’t go in for the hero-worship and over-dramatization which characterize many polar films.

Making The Blinding Sea was not an armchair exercise! I had many adventures while filming it. During the current tour, I sometimes think of the voyage I made on a tall ship across the Southern Ocean to Antarctica, where I shot many scenes.

Research for this film included a three-week voyage from Tierra del Fuego to Antarctica on the Dutch three-masted bark Europa

I also think of the Inuit who taught Amundsen so much, and particularly of Koleok, a young Inuk woman who proposed marriage to Amundsen in 1904. I located seven of Koleok’s descendants, and they taught me a lot too, during the filming of The Blinding Sea.

George Konana, great-grandson of Koleok, an Inuk woman who proposed marriage to Roald Amundsen, in 1904. The temperature that day was -55°C, and the windchill -68°C.

This film tour comes as an amazing experience, since I can share what it meant for me to spend seven years of repeated visits to Nunavut to get to know Inuit there and engage their participation in the film.

Late afternoon, Carcassonne

We have now moved on to Caracassonne (population: 46,000), in Languedoc, whose medieval citadel with 53 towers and barbicans is the largest and best-preserved in Europe.

Early evening, Carcassonne

The Blinding Sea in San Diego

March 25, 2022

The Blinding Sea in Grenoble

March 25, 2022

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