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The Red Tent (1969)

Krasnaya palatka (original title)
Torn by personal guilt Italian General Umberto Nobile reminisces about his 1928 failed Arctic expedition aboard the airship Italia.

Director:

(as Mickail K. Kalatozov)

Writers:

(as Richard L. Adams), | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Nurse Valeria
...
Aviator Lundborg (as Hardy Kruger)
...
...
Luigi Vannucchi ...
...
Eduard Martsevich ...
Grigoriy Gay ...
...
Nikolai Ivanov ...
Kolka, Amateur Radioman
Boris Khmelnitskiy ...
Yuriy Solomin ...
Yuriy Vizbor ...
...
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Storyline

The commander of a failed 1928 Arctic airship expedition is remembering the events of the "Italia" airship flight, crash and subsequent rescue efforts. The "ghosts" of people involved in the events appear in his memories to assist him in determining his guilt in the affair. The reminiscences are mixed with the real action: the flight of the "Italia", the air rescue operation from Kings Bay airfield, the expedition of the "Krassin" ice-breaker. A sort of human touch is added by the ever beautiful C.C. playing Malmgren's girlfriend. Written by E. Kocourek <e_kocourek@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Forget everything you've ever heard about heroes. Now there is "The Red Tent."

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

| |

Release Date:

23 December 1969 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

The Red Tent  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(International)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The script, based on Yuri Nagibin's novel of the same title, was adapted by Yuri Nagibin and Mikhail Kalatozov.Due to a series of conflicts with the producer, who insisted on expanding the role of his mistress Claudia Cardinale, Nagibin couldn't complete the script and it was completed by De Concini and Bolt. See more »

Quotes

Aviator Lundborg: Men are risking their necks for fame, a medal, promotion, or money. What's wrong with money, mm? Just a means to happiness.
Roald Amundsen: But you don't look like a happy man, exactly. More like a man who's learned to be indifferent to unhappiness.
Aviator Lundborg: I'm glad you know it all, Mr. Amundsen.
Roald Amundsen: But you see, a man who is indifferent to his own unhappiness is indifferent to everything.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Some of the material for the Russian version listed the Scottish actor who plays Amundsen as "Sh. Konneri." See more »

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User Reviews

 
A superb survival story
17 July 2007 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Arctic climes didn't do Sean Connery's initially troubled post-Bond career any favours, although his top billing in The Red Tent is highly misleading, since his supporting role is not much more than a cameo. Instead, forth-billed (after Claudia Cardinale and Hardy Kruger) Peter Finch takes the lead as General Nobile, whose ill-fated 1928 airship expedition to the North Pole, intended to boost Fascist Italy's international prestige, instead ended ingloriously with the survivors stranded on melting ice packs for weeks while inertia, lack of initiative and the poor chain of command resulted in buck-passing, recriminations and destroyed reputations rather than rescue attempts. The real-life disaster was the inspiration for Frank Capra's Dirigible (Capra and studio boss Harry Cohn were both huge admirers of Mussolini in the early days), but this ambitious Russian-Italian co-production is best remembered, if at all, for either its catastrophic box-office failure or its unusual framing structure. Although unusual may be an understatement: in a move more akin to theatre of the 60s rather than epic cinema, it begins with the ageing Nobile, tormented by another sleepless night, summoning up the ghosts of those involved in the disaster and the rescue to put his command on trial.

As a dramatic device, it's too theatrical to entirely work, especially in the clumsy opening reel, but it impinges little on the main drama once the film gets going and ultimately pays dividends, both in the stark poetry and terrible beauty of a scene where Connery's Roald Amundsen recounts his own death and in the final moments which come to some kind of peace with the issues of responsibility, human fallibility and forgiveness. But it's the survival story that works best, with director Mickail K. Kalatozov often eschewing the spectacle (airship and plane crashes, icebreakers and vast landscapes of ice) with a preference for medium shots that keep the film surprisingly intimate (unusually for such an expensive picture, it is also shot in the more confined 1.78:1 ratio rather than Scope).

I can't answer for its historical accuracy beyond Connery's philosophical Amundsen being nothing like the ruthless egomaniac of reality that he had become by this time (indeed, Amundsen's death in this rescue did much to salvage his heroic reputation after the public backlash to his bitter score-settling memoirs). However, far from having to be persuaded to join the rescue attempts, Amundsen had immediately volunteered only for Mussolini to specifically insist he be excluded because of his earlier public disputes with Nobile in the aftermath of their previous expedition, leaving Amundsen to finance his rescue attempt privately. Nor was Amundsen reluctant to return to the Arctic: shortly before the opportunity arose, he said that he wanted to go back and die there "in the fulfilment of a high mission, quickly, without suffering." (The fact that he was undergoing painful radium treatment at the time may have colored his words.) Poetic license aside, it is surprising that the political fallout is not dealt with more overtly - it was a huge national embarrassment that Il Duce's heroes had to be rescued by Russian communists. Indeed, the film is almost totally apolitical, with Il Duce mentioned only once in passing in the opening newsreel footage. However, as a drama it's unsensationally compelling, and Ennio Morricone's score is one of his best.

Paramount's widescreen R1 DVD transfer is pretty good but sadly lacking in any extras.


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