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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Scott killed himself. That's what the British do best."
The Last Place On Earth is a now forgotten British mini-series that's worth remembering. Based on Roland Huntford's still controversial myth-shattering biography of Scott and Amundsen's race to the South Pole, it's the kind of thing which would be done in a rushed 2-3 hours at most today, but in 1985 got more than twice that running time over seven episodes. The benefits...
Published on 2 Sep 2006 by Trevor Willsmer

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars scott
Arrived quickly, this dvd is only going to be of interest to someone who really wants to see another side to the Scott story. By that I mean that the story does drag on quite a bit before you even see a spec of snow. It does hang on to the build up rather than getting into it from the begining. Dont know what anyone else thinks but if Scotts wife was really like the one...
Published on 5 April 2011 by brad stephen lee


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Scott killed himself. That's what the British do best.", 2 Sep 2006
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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The Last Place On Earth is a now forgotten British mini-series that's worth remembering. Based on Roland Huntford's still controversial myth-shattering biography of Scott and Amundsen's race to the South Pole, it's the kind of thing which would be done in a rushed 2-3 hours at most today, but in 1985 got more than twice that running time over seven episodes. The benefits are amazing. It may take three episodes for the rivals to hit Antarctic waters, but Trevor Griffiths' excellent script, despite a few liberties with history, chronology and supporting characters (particularly Frederick Cook, himself prone to dramatic license), has enough room for its characters' flaws and virtues to be fully explored and quietly builds up real involvement. Martin Shaw's Scott gets most of the flaws, though the show doesn't go quite so overboard with them as Huntford's book (to be fair, Scott's pomposity and ability to repeat disastrous mistakes gave him lots of ammo). But despite being played rather superbly with a charismatic twinkle in his eye by Sverre Anker Ousdal, Amundsen isn't perfect either, as his disastrously mismanaged false start and his jealousy and antagonism toward a more famous member of his expedition demonstrate. Although the story doesn't allow it to be explored, the final episode contains plenty of hints of the bitter man he would eventually become as his victory was increasingly overshadowed by the `glory' of Scott's failure.

Ferdinand Fairfax's direction is impressively cinematic, one episode boasting a complex uninterrupted travelling take that's almost up there with Touch of Evil if only on a technical level. There's a lot of familiar British actors when they were still little-knowns among the supporting cast - Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, Michael Maloney, Pat Roach, Richard Wilson and one of the lesser Dr Whos, Sylvester McCoy (excellent here) among them - as well as the one-time star of guilty pleasure Song of Norway, Toralv Maurstead, looking considerably older than his years as an ill-starred member of Amundsen's expedition (for once, with the exception of Max Von's Sydow's Nansen, the Norwegians are played by real Norwegians). Per Theodor Haugen also makes his mark as Amundsen's brother, constantly left to deal with the details and itinery of the everyday life the explorer cannot deal with. There are a couple of moments that don't really work - Scott glimpsing what he thinks is a cross at Cape Evans where his own memorial would later stand is shot far too literally and the very 80s rock scoring of Amundsen crossing the mountains to the plateau is horribly sub-Chariots of Fire - and none of Amundsen's team on the Polar trek itself ever become characters in their own right, but they're minor flaws. This has a 9.4 rating on the IMDB. It earned it.

Thankfully, unlike some recent mini-series releases, the NTSC release hasn't been crudely cropped in fake widescreen but is in its original fullframe ratio, with all seven episodes presented with opening and closing titles over three discs. The quality isn't demo standard, but that's partially down to the original filmstock that was used (its look is typical of 70s-80s British TV), although the picture quality is noticeably sharper in the last two episodes. No extras.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Greek Tragedy in the Ice, 22 Jan 2006
By 
S. Whitney "lilacmoonbeam" (Stoke, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
"Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, I say, Scott, old chap, jolly cold out here, what?". "What do you expect, Birdy, old bean? We're heading for the South Pole, not having a gentle stroll up the Mile End Road, you know."
Well, that's not quite the tone, but this is your true Brit, stiff upper lip sort of thing.
Actually, this is an excellent UK produced tv docu-drama of Scott & Amunsen's race to the South Pole in 1911/12. Scripted by one the 1970's & 1980's best writers, Trevor Griffiths, it's based on Roland Huntford's controversial best seller, Scott & Amundsen (later to take on the same name as the this tv series). Scott is depicted as a blundering amateur in the best British tradition, espousing all manner of imperialist nonsense, whilst remaining totally blind to anything that was developed outside of the Empire; things that might have given him & his men a fighting chance of getting to the Pole & then back again safely.
Amundsen, in the meantime, is the pragmatic professional explorer, who by a natural authority & leadership & a mixture of natural techniques & the latest modern technology available to him, brought off a stunning coup de grace by reaching the South Pole first & getting his men back successfully & safely.
This dvd is an excellent presentation of the original series, the only thing letting it down is the decidedly dated soundtrack. One scene in one of the later episodes depicts Amundsen's men enjoying their ski-ing in the Antarctic landscape to a soundtrack piece characterised by hideously inappropriate cod disco beats. This ghastly aberation is actually incredibly funny if you have a post-modernist ironic take on things.
Everyone knows what happened to Scott & his men on the way back, but knowing that doesn't make this drama any the less compelling ... in fact in much the same way as with Cameron's Titanic, it's the knowing of the outcome that enhances the experience of watching the tragic events unfold.
True tragedy in the best Greek tradition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A faithful reproduction of Huntford's excellent book about Scott and Amundsen, 16 Aug 2012
By 
Alfredo Hamill (Naples, Italy) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Last Place On Earth [DVD] (DVD)
Putting aside the querelle over Scott and Amundsen, the DVD faithfully recounts in images the story of Scott's tragic journey, as very weill told in Huntford's book by the same title from which this is drawn. All the tragic errors, inadequate planning and simple obtuseness that dominated the whole affair, but nonetheless showing Scott's real courage in the face of disaster. Amundsen has never really got the credit due him, given only begrudgingly and late, while Scott's partisans even today try to paper over his glaring incompetence, but this is the true story. Actually, the real villain of all this is not Scott himself, but Clements Markham, who chose Scott for expedition, wilfully ignoring all the excellent advice given for its organization. The ultimate irony is that the British should have been, and certainly would have been, the first to the South Pole, if only Markham had not interfered so much, out of thickheaded vainglory. Even Amundsen had an English Royal Navy captain as his model, Collingwood by name, not to mention the real glories of Capt. James Cook, or even Admiral Ross who actually named most of the most famous features of Antarctica! This is really the story of what could have been.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Network R2 edition has had cuts made, 15 Dec 2004
By 
John A. Atkins "jaatkins" (Lancaster) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Update (Sept 2014) - viewers should note that the Network R2 disc edition includes cut versions of the episodes. The US R1 version includes numerous shots (albeit brief) that are missing from the Network version.

This 7 part series dramatises Amundsen and Scott's race to the South Pole in 1911-1912. Filmed in tandem, the two parties never meet or interact (apart from one brief incident)and the Norwegian's are shown to be cooler, more prepared, less egotistic and more respectful of the extremity of nature that Antarctica presents, hence their success.
When first broadcast by ITV in 1985, this lavish revisionist production was heavily criticised for showing Captain Scott's legendary heroics to be nothing more than arrogance and stupidity, costing the lives of four men as well as his own. It also unsparingly (and controversially) showed Scott's men deteriorating before your eyes from scurvy (ghastly in the final scenes).
The locations are wonderfully achieved and this looks even more real than the more recent Shackleton series. The acting is also very strong. Martin Shaw's Scott is one of his finest creations, and Stephen Moore is memorable as Dr Wilson. Other star turns come from Bill Nighy, Hugh Grant and Michael Maloney. But special praise should go to Richard Morant as Captain Oates, whose understated suffering and common-sense musings go unheeded. Only Sylvester Mccoy seems miscast. He acts the part of Bowers well enough but he simply can't suggest Bowers' immense physical strength and fortitude (Although very short, the real life Bowers was seemingly immune to frost-bite and fatigue!)
Any TV programme that dramatises a 2000-mile journey made on foot without the luxury of rescue parties or resupply of food and fuel is something out of the ordinary. And that's before you take into account -60 degree temperatures and 70mph winds!
Overall, this is the kind of TV that is rarely made these days. Not dumbed-down, not Americanised, not afraid to tackle an epic theme. DVD transfer is acceptable rather than spectacular and sound is in mono. But it looks good and some location shots of pack ice and glaciers are beautiful.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Scott killed himself. That's what the British do best.", 24 Sep 2006
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Last Place On Earth [DVD] (DVD)
The Last Place On Earth is a now forgotten British mini-series that's worth remembering. Based on Roland Huntford's still controversial myth-shattering biography of Scott and Amundsen's race to the South Pole, it's the kind of thing which would be done in a rushed 2-3 hours at most today, but in 1985 got more than twice that running time over seven episodes. The benefits are amazing. It may take three episodes for the rivals to hit Antarctic waters, but Trevor Griffiths' excellent script, despite a few liberties with history, chronology and supporting characters (particularly Frederick Cook, himself prone to dramatic license), has enough room for its characters' flaws and virtues to be fully explored and quietly builds up real involvement. Martin Shaw's Scott gets most of the flaws, though the show doesn't go quite so overboard with them as Huntford's book (to be fair, Scott's pomposity and ability to repeat disastrous mistakes gave him lots of ammo). But despite being played rather superbly with a charismatic twinkle in his eye by Sverre Anker Ousdal, Amundsen isn't perfect either, as his disastrously mismanaged false start and his jealousy and antagonism toward a more famous member of his expedition demonstrate. Although the story doesn't allow it to be explored, the final episode contains plenty of hints of the bitter man he would eventually become as his victory was increasingly overshadowed by the `glory' of Scott's failure.

Ferdinand Fairfax's direction is impressively cinematic, one episode boasting a complex uninterrupted travelling take that's almost up there with Touch of Evil if only on a technical level. There's a lot of familiar British actors when they were still little-knowns among the supporting cast - Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, Michael Maloney, Pat Roach, Richard Wilson and one of the lesser Dr Whos, Sylvester McCoy (excellent here) among them - as well as the one-time star of guilty pleasure Song of Norway, Toralv Maurstead, looking considerably older than his years as an ill-starred member of Amundsen's expedition (for once, with the exception of Max Von's Sydow's Nansen, the Norwegians are played by real Norwegians). Per Theodor Haugen also makes his mark as Amundsen's brother, constantly left to deal with the details and itinery of the everyday life the explorer cannot deal with. There are a couple of moments that don't really work - Scott glimpsing what he thinks is a cross at Cape Evans where his own memorial would later stand is shot far too literally and the very 80s rock scoring of Amundsen crossing the mountains to the plateau is horribly sub-Chariots of Fire - but they're minor flaws. This has a 9.4 rating on the IMDB. It earned it.
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good drama considering the shaky foundations of the book it was based upon, 17 Jan 2008
This review is from: The Last Place On Earth [DVD] (DVD)
Having watched this series 20 years ago, I tracked it down via Amazon and was delighted when I found it, and, in comparison with 2001's 'Shackleton,' it has aged quite well, apart from the soundtrack, which does sound dated.
I dare say that anyone buying this DVD will already know a fair bit of Antarctic Exploration History, and will thus be able overlook some of the inventions of the script. There are some excellent performances here, from the lead characters of Martin Shaw as Scott and Sverre Anker Ousdal as Amundsen, to Richard Morant as Captain Oates and a splendidly embittered performance from Bill Nighy as Cecil Meares. There's also an appearance from a youthful Hugh Grant as Apsley Cherry-Garrard.

The scenery is magnificent, and the cast convey at least something of an idea of how hard life was for early polar explorers. However, like 'Shackleton,' there is a little too much build up and more important events hardly touched on - Lashly, Crean and Evans' hazardous return to base, (with Crean's heroic 30 mile solo trek to Hut Point) is probably worth a film of its own

It is a pity that this otherwise excellent drama, and the final episode in particular, was based upon Roland Huntford's biased 'Scott and Amundsen,' now largely discredited (by Ranulph Fiennes' 'Captain Scott' and Susan Solomon's 'The Coldest March'). As such, the conclusion reflects the inaccurate and scurvy-obsessed theories of a journalist (Huntford) who has never been in such a situation. In fact, neither Scott or Amundsen are portrayed sympathetically here, and one is left feeling that the casual viewer would have gone away with an unfairly negative view of both these heroic men.

I do wish other reviewers would read further than Huntford's biased accounts before forming their opinions of Scott.

This DVD set is well packaged but there are no extras. My supposed Region 1 copy played perfectly well on a Region 2 only player for some reason!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Antarctic Adventure Series, 16 Dec 2009
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This review is from: The Last Place On Earth [DVD] (DVD)
I decided to write this review after seeing the television
dramatization of Ernest Shackleton's "Endurance" expedition.
Although I have seen "Last Place" many times, seeing "Shackleton", which is not bad, made me appreciate how
good "Last Place" really is. Ultimately, "Last Place" gives
a very good presentation of the different approaches to polar
exploration that Amundsen and Scott had. Unfortunately, "Shackleton" did not do this as well. Scott, a typical product of the hidebound Royal Navy and the class-ridden society
that made up late Victorian Britain believes that technology combined with immense will-power and "natural superiority of the Englishman" will overcome all obstacles.
Amundsen, a citizen of newly independent Norway, was much more open-minded and willing to make due with less. Unlike the British who believed they were a superior civilization and had nothing to learn from "inferior natives" like the Eskimos had clothing and food that was less well adapted to life in the very harsh polar climate. This flexibility that Amundsen had led him to adopt the clothing of the Eskimos and also led him to be more concerned about the problem of scurvey which plagued previous expeditions to the polar regions. This meant that Amundsen's men were much healthier (they actually gained weight on the journey!) than Scott's. By using dogs, there was less physical strain on the Norweigians than on the British who pulled their sled by themselves for much of the trip.
Amundsen was a meticulous planner whereas Scott had a tendency to rely on the British habit of "muddling through" and hoping that things will work out. In the end, these differences meant the difference between life or death for the two expeditions.
It is true that Roland Huntford whose book of the same name is the basis of the series has a real hatred for Scott which comes out again and again and showing a negative image of Scott which is probably exaggerated in the series, but Amundsen's flaws are also brought out such as his hiding the truth about his plans to go to the South Pole instead of exploring the Arctic as he claimed he was going to do and his almost disastrous too-early start to the South Pole which brought out his conflict with the legendary Hjalmar Johansen. Thus, I believe the viewer does come out of the series with a pretty honest idea of the truth about the race to the Pole and the very different outcomes for the two expeditions.
Beside the outstanding script and acting, the cinematography is absolutely breathtaking and the almost hurculean efforts to film this in the harsh environment of Greenland really paid off in making making one of the most impressive productions ever to be seen on television or the cinema. Anyone who is interested in history, exploration, or the psychology of men in extreme conditions will immensely enjoy this treasure.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Place on Earth, 17 July 2009
By 
William Morton (California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Last Place On Earth [DVD] (DVD)
The Good: This is, in my opinion, the finest adventure film ever made (the Scott and Amundsen "race" to the South Pole). Outstanding acting, incredible scenery, and a story for the ages. No computer re-enactments - simple but great cinematography takes you to the frozen reaches of the Antarctic wasteland. The Bad: Awful music. The Ugly: a very poor soundtrack, and poor video quality.

Even with its drawbacks, it is a riveting story not likely to be forgotten and well worth the price if you can purchase the DVD. 2011 is the 100th anniversary of Amundsen's conquest. This amazing film should be re-mastered (Blue Ray would be best) and reissued!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Drama but influenced by hindsight fed anti-Scott bias, 14 Feb 2005
Having watched this series 20 years ago, I tracked it down via Amazon and was delighted when I found it, and, in comparison with 2001's 'Shackleton,' it has aged quite well, apart from the soundtrack, which does sound dated.
I dare say that anyone buying this DVD will already know a fair bit of Antarctic Exploration History, and will thus be able overlook some of the inventions of the script. There are some excellent performances here, from the lead characters of Martin Shaw as Scott and Sverre Anker Ousdal as Amundsen, to Richard Morant as Captain Oates and a splendidly embittered performance from Bill Nighy as Cecil Meares. There's also an appearance from a youthful Hugh Grant as Apsley Cherry-Garrard.
The scenery is magnificent, and the cast convey at least something of an idea of how hard life was for early polar explorers. However, like 'Shackleton,' there is a little too much build up and more important events hardly touched on - Lashly, Crean and Evans' hazardous return to base, (with Crean's heroic 30 mile solo trek to Hut Point) is probably worth a film of its own
It is a pity that this otherwise excellent drama, and the final episode in particular, was based upon Roland Huntford's biased 'Scott and Amundsen,' now largely discredited (by Ranulph Fiennes' 'Captain Scott' and Susan Solomon's 'The Coldest March'). As such, the conclusion reflects the inaccurate and scurvy-obsessed theories of a journalist (Huntford) who has never been in such a situation. In fact, neither Scott or Amundsen are portrayed sympathetically here, and one is left feeling that the casual viewer would have gone away with an unfairly negative view of both these heroic men.
This DVD set is well packaged but there are no extras. My supposed Region 1 copy played perfectly well on a Region 2 only player for some reason!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ponderous, prejudicial and poorly cast., 21 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The Last Place On Earth [DVD] (DVD)
This is the mini series made in the 1980s which tells the stories of Scott and Amundsen's 1912 expeditions to Antarctica and more especially, their treks to the South Pole. It is based on Roland Huntford's analysis of the respective merits of the two explorers, as related in his book 'Scott and Amundsen' and faithfully reflects his view that Amundsen was the 'creme de la creme' and Scott was 'damaged goods'. If anything, the film portrays that interpretation even more forcefully than does the book.

I have a somewhat different view of the respective merits of the two men and I suppose therefore I can be accused of commenting from a rather biased starting point. However my main criticisms of this visual portrayal are not of the story told, but of the film itself. To be positive, the scenery was magnificent, but there, its merits end for me. In particular, I found the characters poorly cast. Despite the fact that the blurb on the DVD jacket describes the main actors' performances as 'outstanding'. I found them anything but. Martin Shaw's portrayal of Scott as mean-spirited and nasty simply did not accord with the complex character revealed by those many of his contemporaries in their writings. Wilson was portrayed as being diffident and wishy-washy, rather than the much-admired cornerstone which many expedition members found him. An actor I much admire, Bill Nighy, played Meares as an out and out rebel, a characterisation which has a doubtful basis in fact. And the portrayals of Oates and Bowers too, fell far short of the magnificent characters which they undoubtedly were. I had less trouble with the depiction of PO Evans, and to be fair, Sverre Anker Ousdal played Amundsen himself very well indeed. I was left wondering whether the actors had actually done any research themselves into the characters they were portraying, or did they simply accept direction unquestioningly.

Without wishing to be too negative, I also found the storyline, especially in the pre-expedition build-ups, slow and ponderous. And the music too was dreary - falling far short of the magnificent scores which have been written for so many films over the past 30 years.

So I was disappointed. No doubt the series has its many admirers. But I am in the detractor camp.
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