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Scott vs. Amundsen. It wasn't meant to be a race, but race it becomes, as the world awaits news of the first to reach the Pole. What follows is a tale of heroism, foolhardiness, selflessness and self-delusion, in a land where victory must be secondary to survival. Written by
The song that Olav Bjaaland (Ståle Bjørnhaug) sings when the Norwegian team breaks the "farthest south" record is "Nordmannen", also called "Millom Bakkar og Berg". The lyrics are by the Norwegian poet and linguist, Ivar Aasen (1813-1896), best known for developing the "landsmaal" written language from rural Norwegian dialects. The music is by Ludvig Lindeman (1812-1887). See more »
In the series, Amundsen visits Dr Frederick Cook in Leavenworth Prison shortly after the publication of Scott's journal. In reality, the meeting took place more than a decade later, in 1926, when Cook was serving a sentence for his part in an alleged oil fraud. See more »
This series was a superb production based on Roland Huntford's book. For many years Scott was portrayed as a hero, who died on his return from the Pole. In Death he overshadowed Amundsen's achievement of being first to the pole. Huntford's book and this production, set out to dispell the legend of Scott the Hero.
The start of the series, gives an insight into the direction the whole production goes. It shows Amundsen staying with Eskimos, while Scott is facing the prospect of a court marshall. There can be little doubt in reality that the British Expedition was no match for the experienced collection of Norwegian Explorers. If it had been a sporting event, it would have been classed as a thrashing. After all Amundsens was halfway back to his base when Scott reached the Pole.
The different ideas of the two men is made clear. Amundsen knows he must be first to the pole. He can't afford to be second. He has told his country and government that he is headed for the north pole. He knows that no chances can be taken in a place as unforgiving as the Antartic. Scott however believes that the pole is his by rights, this is probably due to the mentality of the British at that period of time when they had the largest empire the world had seen. He takes only enough supplies to make it there and back, and when he falls behind schedule he starves to death.
It portrays Scotts rivalry with Shakelton, and why Scott pushed on to the Pole, as he felt he had to do better than Shakelton. For many years Scott was considered the Greater Hero. Nowadays it is reversed with Shakelton's concern for his men, is looked on more favourable, thans Scott's reckless actions to push on to the prize.
For all of Scott's mistakes, the show does not go into the bad luck that Scott suffered at the Hands of the weather. Yes, it does snow in the Antartic all the time, but the temperature in the March that year was well below the average for that time of year. Would Scott had made it back in more favourable conditions, we'll never know, but Amundsen knew it was not a place to take chances.
In summing up, this was a superb production, with good acting, directing and setting. I recommend anyone who enjoyed this to read the book as well. Also to read Scott's diary, as it is a masterpiece. Maybe he was more suited to writing than to exploring.
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