Michael Palin packs his bags in this sequel to his round the world in 80 days adventure. This time his journey takes him from the North Pole to the South Pole, in as direct a route as possible, taking him through the eastern part of Africa. Written by
Only a few days after Palin and crew left the Soviet Union, the "Generals' Coup" that arrested Gorbachev and led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the rise of Boris Yeltsin took place, while Palin was still on a Soviet-registered passenger ship crossing the Black Sea. See more »
This review is based on watching the DVD version of "Pole to Pole", the BBC TV program made in 1991 that showed Michael Palin traveling from the North Pole to the South Pole.
The trip was based on several self-imposed rules. The use of aircraft was only allowed when surface travel was not possible, and public transportation was used as much as possible. The trip attempted to follow the 30 degree east longitude line, down through Scandinavia, the then-existing USSR, Turkey and all the way down through the continent of Africa.
The trip took five months and was quite arduous at times. Transportation was almost non-existent in central Africa, parts of Africa had to be avoided due to civil war and Michael Palin was hit by several health problems including two cracked ribs.
The wonderful thing about Michael Palin's travelogues is the enthusiasm, wit and charm that Mr. Palin shows. There are many impromptu encounters with the local people that are humorous and interesting. And, of course, there's the beautiful photography showing the stunning nature that was found along the way.
On the down side it was depressing to see the poverty and hints of political repression and social unrest in parts of Africa. The AIDS epidemic in Africa was also mentioned, and Michael Palin visited an evacuated village near Chernobyl.
This trip was made in 1991 and already when the trip was over world history had changed the landscape, in that the USSR completely unraveled shortly after Michael Palin traveled through it. The years that have passed since 1991 can be noticed in other ways too. For example, the situation in most of Africa has unfortunately gotten worse rather than better. And Antarctica, almost completely inaccessible in 1991, now has a tourist trade with 23,000 landed tourists during the 2004-2005 season! The DVD version of this trip consists of three discs. These contain eight 50-minute episodes (total of six hours 40 minutes) and, as extra material, a 30-minute interview with Michael Palin. I found the interview to be very interesting and am glad that it was included.
Highly recommended, as is the book version of this trip and all of Michael Palin's other trips, both in DVD version and as books.
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