A Greek Tragedy in the Ice,
This review is from: Last Place on Earth [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
"Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, I say, Scott, old chap, jolly cold out here, what?". "What do you expect, Birdy, old man? This is the South Pole. We're 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 1985 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 that would actually have been of use to him & which could have saved his life & those of his men.
Amundsen, in the meantime, is the pragmatic professional explorer, who by a mixture of natural techniques, the latest modern technology available to him, & a leadership & discipline that arose out of the needs of the moment & an extraordinary understanding of his environment brought off a stunning coup de grace by reaching the South Pole first & getting his men back successfully & safely.
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.
The digital transfer is good enough & the sound is ok too. The soundtrack music is also ok, except for one ghastly moment in one of the later episodes where the orchestrator seems to have decided that what the soundtrack really needed in order to fully illustrate Amundsen's men's joy at easy sledging was some early 1980's cod disco music along the lines of The Dooleys. Apart from that dreadful aberation, which paradoxically very comic, this is a classy productioon & as powerful now as it was when first broadcast.