Gold Fever! Deadly Cold! And the Amazing True Adventures of Jack London in the Wild

Richard Grant:

Questing for gold, what he found instead was inspiration and material for one of the most successful literary careers of all time. His best-known Yukon book, The Call of the Wild, has been translated into nearly 100 languages, and will be released in February as a movie starring Harrison Ford as a Klondike gold prospector. Such is the enduring power of the story—a dog named Buck is kidnapped from California and thrust into the frozen wilds of the Far North—that this is the ninth time that the 1903 novel has been adapted for film or television.

Techniques including computer-generated imagery enabled the latest filmmakers to shoot the entire production without leaving California, and it’s hard to criticize them for not using authentic Yukon locations. In summertime, the advantages of 20-hour daylight are offset by horrendous swarms of mosquitoes, among other challenges. In mid-winter, when much of the story takes place, the sun doesn’t reach the horizon and temperatures plunge to 50, 60, or even 70 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. In that kind of weather, as Jack London discovered, even the strongest whiskey freezes solid, and a man’s spit turns to ice before it hits the snow.