As long as it’s snowing, might as well indulge in a deep freeze. FX Goby’s To Build A Fire, an adaptation of the short story by Jack London, is a story as bleak and unsentimental as its frozen landscape. London essentially perfected the “man vs nature” story, and for To Build A Fire’s protagonist, wandering through the frozen Yukon with only his dog by his side, nature is an unforgiving foe. The land might look serene, but every step along the way holds its own threats.
There’s a slight disconnect between Goby’s character design with its thick lines and flat colours, and the stark naturalism of both the scenery and the story. But the other details are spot on, especially a sound design that really captures the texture of walking through snow, and the increasing desperation in the dialogue-free voice work. It’s hard to watch without feeling a chill—and being glad that, however much it’s snowing out right now, warm shelter isn’t far away.