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The true story of the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott and his ill-fated expedition to try to be the first man to discover the South Pole - only to find that the murderously cold weather and a rival team of Norwegian explorers conspire against him Written by
Michael Brooke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
There have recently been a lot of dramatised and documentary programmes on UK terrestrial and satellite TV on the pioneering polar explorers, erstwhile rivals and colleagues Scott & Shackleton so I was keen to view this British made dramatisation of the former's doomed 1912 expedition to the South Pole. I was not disappointed. It is obviously difficult to maintain cinematic excitement for the viewer of what is basically a long march (a similar problem as in "The Spirit of St Louis" and "The Old Man & the Sea"), but the true to life tragedy here proves compelling in the end. Jack Cardiff's colour photography is splendid and I was surprised to observe so few "process" shots for a film from the 1940s, given the scale of the task here. John Mills is excellent in the key role of Commander Scott but the supports are all excellent, many of them chosen for their physical similarity to their real life counterparts - Mills too bears a more than passing likeness of physiognomy to Scott. In the post - war climate, Britain obviously sought comfort and inspiration from past heroes as the country rebuilt itself in economic austerity and Scott must have been an ideal model for glorification. Regardless of sniping comments from historians about Scott's poor planning, the film quite rightly avoids judgements and asks the viewer to recognise and admire the human heroism of these gallant men. There is surely no more tragic sacrifice in all exploration than Oates' "I'm going outside, I may be gone some time" - exit and the movie captures this moment with the necessary pathos, later repeating the sensitivity as Scott and his last two colleagues expire with the so near and yet so far "11 miles" on their freezing lips. The Vaughan-Williams music is suitably sweeping and elegiac. One wonders why Hollywood ignored the film at the Academy Awards of 1948, certainly the acting, cinematography and music, to name but three, were worthy of recognition. I wonder if anyone would remake it in the modern era as we approach the centenary of the triumph and tragedy of Scott's expedition. Are you listening Peter Jackson...?
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