This very well made and absorbing imported film in English with Spanish subtitles was directed by Mikhail Kalatozov and tells the story of the ill fated "Italia" airship expedition in 1928 that was led by the Italian soldier, General Umberto Nobile (played by Peter Finch). The events are recounted through flashbacks when a haunted, guilt ridden Nobile dreams about the expedition when he is a much older man. Nobile attempted the fly the "Italia" over the North Pole from Spitzbergen and back but although it reached the pole and dropped a flag there it crashed on the way back, killing some of the people on board and leaving others stranded on the ice sheltering in a tent painted red for easy recognition by rescue aircraft. In his dream the other survivors in the expedition come to him as ghosts and make accusations about his role in the expedition and particualrly that after the airship crashed he was the first person to be lifted off the ice by a rescue plane. Normally it is the captain of a vessel who is expected to be the last person to be rescued but in Nobile's case he was the first, leaving his comrades behind to be picked up later, which fortunately happened when the Russian icebreaker, the "Krassin" reached them. However, the hero of the time and a darling of the public, Roald Amundsen, who was the first person to reach the South Pole, was lost when he was a passenger in a plane that went to search for the "Italia" and this did not exactly endere Nobile to the general public.
The photography of the film is breathtaking, the music by Enrico Morricone is beautiful and the acting is excellent throughout. A young Sean Connery as Amundsen impresses but it is Peter Finch as the unfortunate Nobile who stands out. Nobile was no coward and he took a lot of pursuading to return to Spitzbergen ahead of the other members of the expedition and Finch portrays him as a caring and courageous leader but someone who for the rest of his life was tortured by the outcome of the expedition made much worse by the fact that it did not fully succeed in its objective.