The South and the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration on Film – Film News |


N / A (director)

IBF (studio)

E (certificate)

234 minutes (length)

February 28, 2022 (published)

11 a.m.

This utterly fascinating and compelling 3-disc collection of archival film truly captures the heroic age of Antarctic exploration, beginning in 1898 and ending in 1922 with footage from the funeral of Sir Ernest Shackleton. This period coincides with the development of motion picture technology and the rise of commercial cinema, allowing audiences to see first-hand images of these icy and hitherto unexplored landscapes, along with its animal life.

After the disputed realization of the North Pole in 1909 (was it Robert Peary or was it Frederick Cook?), the race was on to explore the South Pole and one thing was certain: this time there would be no uncertainty or errors for the cameras. do not lie ! The first British expedition to Antarctica was undertaken by Anglo-Norwegian explorer Carsten Borchgrevink who was probably the first to set foot on the icy terrain. Cue for the 1-minute clip ‘Antarctic Expedition: Sir George Newnes to Officers and Crew’ (1898) depicts Borchgrevink and his crew as they set out in the Southern Cross. Next, we have an 8-minute clip depicting the departure of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew from Lyttelton, New Zealand in 1908. For Shackleton, this was his second Antarctic expedition but his first as a leader.
If you think only the British, Scandinavians or Americans were happy to explore, think again because Japanese Lieutenant Nobu Shirase undertook his own conquest to Antarctica, namely from 1910 to 1912. This 19-minute version of “Nihon Nankyoku Tanken/The Japanese Antarctic Expedition” is derived from a 16mm print prepared on the expedition’s 40th anniversary to coincide with a memorial service held in 1950 by the surviving members of the team by Shirase.

Equally fascinating is the 22-minute film ‘Fram’s South Polar Expedition’ depicting Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole (1910-1912), with Amundsen and his four-man team who would be the first to reach the geographic South Pole on December 14, 1911. In between all the different blizzards and various footage, we are treated to a 45 second extract from Pathé’s Animated Gazette #140 as well as footage showing all the adorable canine companions who were of importance vital – first in the one-minute clip ‘Dogs for Antarctica’ (1911) followed by the 45-second clip ‘Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Dogs in Quarantine at Beddington’ (1914).
Other footage includes a 26-second clip from around 1917 showing Captain Davis returning to Sydney after rescuing part of Shackleton’s expedition team, as well as an 11-minute film from Uruguay honoring the remains of Shackleton and his funeral (from Southward on the Quest).

The icing (no pun intended) on the cake are two feature films. First, it’s the “Official Film of Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition, aka Home of The Blizzard (1911-1914). Over 68 minutes, we follow Douglas Mawson, a 28-year-old geologist from the he University of Adelaide and his team who, early in 1912, had established a wireless base on the sub-Antarctic island of Macquarie with its main base at Cape Denison and – let us not forget – fearsome icy winds and blizzards to No one knows how humans and dogs coped, in fact, native inhabitants such as penguin and seal colonies (some team members even attempted to climb on them!) can cope with a holy best side.
The second feature is “South – The Glorious Antarctic Epic of Sir Ernest Shackleton” (1919), an 81-minute journey to impending doom when Shackleton’s ship, The Endurance, becomes trapped in a thick pack ice, with frantic preparations to survive the ordeal by drifting north with only 2 pounds of possessions for each man and tending to the dogs. It’s one of the greatest survival stories ever filmed!

Bonus material consists of related archive footage, a 2002 audio commentary by Luke McKernan, a one-minute audio of Shackleton speaking and more.
Remastered in a dual-format 3-disc edition (Blu-ray and DVD), this release is an absolute must-have for anyone interested in Arctic explorations!


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