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4.9 out of 5 stars
Pole To Pole
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
The second in the excellent Palin travel series, where Michael's off on another globe trotting adventure.
Inspirational and simplicity in itself: Michael this time sets out to journey from the North Pole to the South Pole following as closely as possible the 30 degree longitude line, without resorting to air travel until absolutely necessary. Well that's it in theory anyway!
The series is filmed in the excellent spontaneous fashion of 'Around the world', which adds a genuine touch of realism which is often missing from many documentary series. Follow Michael on his journey through 17 countries experiencing many cultures and traditions along the way, as well witnessing some major historical events unfolding such as the fall of the Soviet Union and the abolition of apartheid.
This adventure does not quite surpass around the world perhaps, but none the less is avid viewing. Michael as ever is in top form with his excellent witticisms at just the right moments, as well as his uncanny knack of mixing so well with people of all nationalities and backgrounds. Relive Michael and his team's trials and tribulations as they battle ever on against various obstacles to complete this colourful journey.
The series could almost be used as a modern history study due to the sheer momentum of events which took place in the countries they had travelled through. If only all learning was this much fun!
The Series is filmed as eight 50 minute episodes spread across 3 DVD discs with a post filming interview with Michael. Each episode is very nicely chaptered at the key scenes as well as an overall scene selection for all episodes on each disc. The picture quality is excellent, shame it is only presented in 4:3 aspect ratio rather than perhaps a wide screen format (but this is just a minor gripe). This really is an excellent accompaniment to 'Around the world', do your self a big favour and buy it!!! This is one you can watch many, many times.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 5 May 2005
Pole to Pole, by Michael Palin is more of a adventure book than a travel guide mainly because of the fact that it was filmed and written around 15 years ago. The thing about Michael Palin is that he writes like an average adventurer, not a snobbish 'I am better than you' adventurer. That, along with the fact that he always tells the truth about the countries and places he visits, and the fact that he uses humour to describe mix-ups, and confusion, makes his books so enjoyable to read. Just in case you are wondering, Pole to Pole is from the North Pole to, well, the South Pole, going through 17 countries (there was still the Soviet Union at this time) and taking various types of public transport.
Pole to Pole is the second book in the trilogy that consists of 'Around the World in 80 days', 'Pole to Pole' and 'Full circle'. All three are interesting, vibrantly discribed, and written with the right amount of humour (not too much, but not too little)
This is a good travel/adventure book, and for a relatively low price too. You should buy this.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2006
'Pole To Pole' is yet another fantastic documentary from Michael Palin and an excellent follow-up to 'Around The World In 80 Days.' It appeared at first difficult to see how a sequel would work, after the first '80 Days' series, but with his now well known format, Palin carved another enjoyable adventure out of what already seemed a difficult journey.

'Pole To Pole' does not have the same sense of deadline or urgency as '80 Days', but this is entirely self-explanatory, since the former was set around the travels of fictional Verne adventurer Fogg, who did in the book travel the world in that specific time. This time round, Palin does have the opportunity to spend more time on the places he thinks would be of most interest to the viewer, and the parts in Africa are especially captivating. Filmed during the famine and millitary oppression that still haunts Africa to this day, it is a clear and at some times brutal account of life in poverty stricken Africa.

This journey takes quite some time longer to complete than '80 Days' which is not surprising since they chose to follow the thirty degree longitude line in order to cover the most amount of land; and there is a great deal in this DVD. It was recorded in 1991, a year that saw a lot of change across the world, from Russia to Africa, and Palin brushes with this change and its effects on the people with his usual light hearted humour and optimism.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2004
This is yet another amazing series by Palin, he set the standards in around the worldin 80 days and the bbc sent him pole to pole. Some of the characters he meets are amazing and he puts passion and emotion in many a scene. He dosen't just bring the world to you he brings its friendly people to our screens something that today isn't exactly the first thing people think of those abroad.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2007
This is the first Michael Palin book I've read, so i can't compare it in quality to any of the others, but I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book, much more than I expected to in fact. It can take a little while to get used to Palin's style, as he constantly switches from a detailed narration to a note book shorthand, but once you've acclimatised you quickly realize he is a very competent writer. With a broad yet never verbose vocabulary he paints vivid pictures of the lands he passes through whilst at the same time making many and varied observations about the people and cultures he encounters. It was like having a constant traveling companion and by the end you can't help but feel a great deal of affection not just for Palin, but for the whole team.
I would say one of the books greatest virtues is that you can either read it a few days at a time (the book is divided into days instead of chapters, each a few pages long), or (as I did later on) you can read for hours without getting board. The pictures of the very talented basil are a constant and illuminating delight, yet the book is never so flooded with them that they feel like they are taking over form the writing, they fele more like a garnish than a marinade.
All in all, I highly recommend it.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2006
This review is based on watching the DVD version of "Pole to Pole", the BBC TV program made in 1991 that showed Michael Palin traveling from the North Pole to the South Pole.
The trip was based on several self-imposed rules. The use of aircraft was only allowed when surface travel was not possible, and public transportation was used as much as possible. The trip attempted to follow the 30 degree east longitude line, down through Scandinavia, the then-existing USSR, Turkey and all the way down through the continent of Africa.
The trip took five months and was quite arduous at times. Transportation was almost non-existent in central Africa, parts of Africa had to be avoided due to civil war and Michael Palin was hit by several health problems including two cracked ribs.
The wonderful thing about Michael Palin's travelogues is the enthusiasm, wit and charm that Mr. Palin shows. There are many impromptu encounters with the local people that are humorous and interesting. And, of course, there's the beautiful photography showing the stunning nature that was found along the way.
On the down side it was depressing to see the poverty and hints of political repression and social unrest in parts of Africa. The AIDS epidemic in Africa was also mentioned, and Michael Palin visited an evacuated village near Chernobyl.
This trip was made in 1991 and already when the trip was over world history had changed the landscape, in that the USSR completely unraveled shortly after Michael Palin traveled through it. The years that have passed since 1991 can be noticed in other ways too. For example, the situation in most of Africa has unfortunately gotten worse rather than better. And Antarctica, almost completely inaccessible in 1991, now has a tourist trade with 23,000 landed tourists during the 2004-2005 season!
The DVD version of this trip consists of three discs. These contain eight 50-minute episodes (total of six hours 40 minutes) and, as extra material, a 30-minute interview with Michael Palin. I found the interview to be very interesting and am glad that it was included.
Highly recommended, as is the book version of this trip and all of Michael Palin's other trips, both in DVD version and as books.
Rennie Petersen
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 19 October 2013
I remember watching the TV series back in 1992, and reading the book several years later. I bought this DVD recently as I wanted to revisit the places, as captured in a time gone by, and compare it to my own recent travels. I found it very entertaining.

Pole to Pole has great value as a kind of historical travel documentary as well entertainment value. Two days after Palin and his crew left the Soviet Union, there was the August coup attempt, while in Africa they have to avoid war zones in Sudan by detouring through Ethiopia, which had only concluded its own civil war several months before.

If you are a fan of TV travel series, geography and history, or indeed Michael Palin, then you will find this DVD entertaining and interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 1998
In this, the best of his travel works (see also Around the World in 80 Days and Full Circle), Palin travels along the 30 degree longitude line, which takes him to many rarely-travelled places, including Chernobyl and parts of Africa where there simply are no roads to travel.
Throughout, Palin is witty and insightful, and one wishes they were with him (except for the scene with the maggots). While travel writing might seem boring, Palin makes it interesting, and exciting. I devoured all his travel books within a very short period of time, and was left wanting more.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2004
I loved this when it was first on the TV back in the 80s and I love it now.
There is something very relaxing about travelling around the world without leaving the comfort of your own home.
Palin, by his own admission, often looking like a 'junior minister' in his shorts and hat, is always warm and engaging and the people he meets on his travels are a delight (with the exception of the miserable paper seller in London)
I have watched this many many times and have never got bored. Just writing about it makes me want to watch it again! A bargain I would say!
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on 25 June 2009
If you have not got the time to watch the whole pole to pole series on DVD, then this book goes along way to help with that.

Pole to Pole the tv series was great, but this book lets you into what Palin was thinking at the time of his travels, and the stuff that did not make it on to tv.

The best part of the book is probably when he travels through Scandanavia and into the USSR, a few weeks/months before the country fell and broke up!

Its great reading about his time in Tallinn, Leningrad (St Petersburgh) and Ukraine... hearing the views of the locals (especially the Ukrainian who felt that Ukraine would gain independance within 20-30 years... yet just needed to wait a few months for it to happen).

After Europe, we hear about Turkey, Rhodes, Cyprus and Egypt.

Once into Africa the book starts to tail off a little bit, but not enough to make you put the book down, and after making detours to avoid wars and to make the last stage of the journey into the South Pole, he eventually makes it to the pole.
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