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Scott of the Antarctic
Directed by Charles Frend
Produced by Michael Balcon
Written by Walter Meade
Ivor Montagu
Mary Hayley Bell
Starring John Mills,
James Robertson Justice,
Barry Letts
Music by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Distributed by Ealing Studios
Release date(s) 29 November 1948
Running time 111 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Scott of the Antarctic is a 1948 film about Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated expedition to be the first to the South Pole in Antarctica in 1910-12. John Mills played Scott, with a supporting cast which included James Robertson Justice, Derek Bond, Kenneth More, John Gregson, Barry Letts and Christopher Lee.

Produced by Ealing Studios, the film was directed by Charles Frend largely on location in Norway. It was filmed in Technicolor. The script was by Ivor Montagu, Walter Meade and the novelist Mary Hayley Bell, Mills' wife. The film is also known for its score by Ralph Vaughan Williams that was later reworked into his Sinfonia Antartica.

Making good use of location shooting, the film is largely faithful to the real events of the ill-fated trek to and from the pole (though many incidents are skimmed over or not included at all), with emphasis on the heroic character of Scott and his men rather than the mistakes he made; in keeping with the contemporary view, which historiography shows swings for and against Scott.

Plot summary

Captain Scott is given the men, but not the funds, to go on a second expedition to the Antarctic. As his wife works on a bust of him, she tells him that she's "not the least jealous" that he's going to the Antarctic again. The wife of a scientist whom Scott hopes to recruit has a very different opinion from Scott's wife, but the scientist agrees to go. Scott also visits Fridtjof Nansen, who insists that a polar expedition must use dogs. Scott goes on a fundraising campaign, and despite popular skepticism, manages to raise enough money to fund the expedition.

After a stop in New Zealand, the ship sets sail for Antarctica. Once there, a camp is set up at the coast, and a small contingent of men, horses and dogs begins the trek towards the pole. About halfway, the horses are shot and some of the men are sent back with the dogs. At the three quarter mark, Scott selects the five-man (not the planned four-man) team to make the push to the pole. They reach the pole only to find the Norwegian flag already planted there and a letter from Roald Amundsen asking Scott to deliver it to the King of Norway.

Hugely disappointed, Scott's team begins the long journey back. Scott is very concerned about the health of his men, one has a hand swollen with a serious gash and another might need to have his foot amputated. The man with the bad hand dies and is buried under the snow. Just 11 miles short of a supply depot, the rest of the team dies, soon after Scott writes the famous "I do not regret this journey..." entry in his log.


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