Scott of the Antarctic (1948)

Scott of the Antarctic (1948), directed by Charles Frend.

No, not the Monty Python version with the giant electric penguin.

This about the 1910 attempt to be the first men to reach the South Pole. It covers recruitment and fundraising, then six months hunkered down in the Antarctic winter. In the spring the expedition embarked with a combination of tractors, horses and sled dogs. First the tractors broke down, then the horses were shot (as planned; there was no way to take enough food for them). Several supply caches were established and five men walked to the Pole, pulling their sledge behind them. They found a Norwegian flag already there. (Amundsen had used sled dogs the whole way). They turned back; two died on the way and the remaining three died 11 miles from a supply depot.

Done as realistically as possible. The final portion is a story of suffering and endurance. John Mill's narration is from Scott's journal. At the Pole he says "Great God, this is an awful place."

I know that Scott's leadership has become controversial, but I don't know enough about the history or debates to comment. The film is a fairly heroic presentation, although it is easy to see in retrospect that some of his decisions were errors.

This must have been gorgeous in Technicolor (sea, snow and mountains are always worth filming, and Jack Cardiff did the photography) but my rental DVD (from "905 Entertainment") was awful, like a poor VHS tape.

Ralph Vaughan Williams score, later worked into a symphony. Watch for a young Christopher Lee.