If you’ve seen The Great White Silence, Herbert Ponting’s devastating film of RF Scott’s Antarctic expedition, or Frank Hurley’s South, which follows Ernest Shackleton’s voyage through the same freezing waters, you’ll know this is an exciting piece of archive programming. The BFI’s Cinematic Race to the South Pole season features footage of expeditions by Scott, Shackleton and yes, Amundsen too, in three themed packages. You can read more about it here.
Thanks to the touching generosity of the BFI, I’m giving away a pair of tickets to a screening in the season along with a gorgeous poster for The Great White Silence. To enter, all you have to do is send an email. No question this time!
To win a pair of tickets to the BFI Southbank’s season commerating the race to the South Pole PLUS a copy of the BFI poster for the film The Great White Silence, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with Silent in the subject header by 10 March 2012.
Spring 2012 marks a couple of grisly, yet hugely significant centenaries. The Titanic sank on 15 April 1912 (more of which in forthcoming posts) and on 29 March 1912 or thereabouts, Robert Falcon Scott succumbed to cold and starvation and died a few miles from the South Pole.
The story of Scott and his crew’s tragic expedition has been told many times, but nowhere more movingly than in The Great White Silence (1924), Herbert Ponting’s silent documentary that was rereleased theatrically last year.
To commemorate the centenary, the BFI has scheduled three special screenings of documentary material relation to Antarctic exploration, each pegged to an individual explorer. You’ll probably be familiar with The Great White Silence by now, but if you haven’t seen it yet (or bought it on DVD/Blu-Ray), this is a fantastic opportunity to see it on the big screen. The Ernest Shackleton film South is a marvellous companion to The Great White Silence, with fantastic photography from Frank Hurley. It was also recently restored by the BFI and released on DVD. The footage of Roald Amundsen’s rather more successful voyage is less widely seen and promises to be fascinating.
Race to the South Pole: Amundsen and the Others
Our first programme focuses on Roald Amundsen and the little-seen film Roald Amundsens Sydpolsferd (1910-12), restored by the Norwegian Film Institute and here playing in context with a selection of surviving fragments from films of the expeditions of William Speirs Bruce in 1902-4 (The Scottish Antarctic Expedition), Shackleton in 1908-9 (Departure of the British Antarctic Expedition from Lyttelton, NZ 1st Jan 1908), the Japanese Shirase in 1911 (Nihon Nankyoku Tanken), and a work in progress to recreate cinematographer Frank Hurley’s original lecture on the Mawson Australian Antarctic Expedition 1910-12.
With introduction by Bryony Dixon and live piano accompaniment.
Memorial Service at St. Paul’s Cathedral to the Antarctic Heroes (Pathé Animated Gazette, UK 1913, 1min) + Captain Scott and Dr Wilson with ‘Nobby’ the Pony (Gaumont Graphic, UK 1912, 1min) + Cardiff: The Ship ‘Terra Nova’ Leaving Harbour Towards the South Pole (Pathé Animated Gazette, UK 1912, 1min) + The Great White Silence (UK 1924, dir Herbert Ponting, 106min. Digital)
To commemorate the centenary of the death of Scott and his companions we present Herbert Ponting’s moving tribute The Great White Silence (1924), together with newsreels of the time showing how contemporary audiences followed the momentous news from the planet’s last unexplored continent.
South – Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Glorious Epic of the Antarctic (UK 1919, dir Frank Hurley, 72min) + El Homenaje del Uruguay a los Restos de Sir Ernest Shackleton (Uruguay 1922, dir Henry Maurice, 10min, Spanish intertitles) + Southward on the ‘Quest’ (UK 1922, extract, c5min).
Of all the heroic age Antarctic explorers, Shackleton seems to have the most enduring popular appeal. Almost nothing of the film from the Nimrod expedition which inspired Scott and Amundsen seems to survive, but we do have Frank Hurley’s extraordinary document South (1919) which we will be showing with rare footage of Shackleton’s last expedition and the huge crowds gathered for his lying in state in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Introduced by Bryony Dixon. Live piano accompaniment.