The Great White Silence

Nov 21, 2012
Cranbrook Film Society

Restored by the BFI to commemorate the centenary of Scott’s South Pole expedition, Herbert G Ponting’s The Great White Silence documents Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated Terra Nova venture.

Ponting only accompanied the team as far as the Antarctic coastline base camp, yet captured sights covering every aspect of the expedition: the scientific work, life in camp and the local wildlife Рkiller whales, seals, Antarctic skuas and Ad̩lie penguins.

Ponting’s remarkable film reveals the strange and unexpected beauty of the polar icescapes, highlighted by Simon Fisher Turner’s largely electronic new score (featuring archival recordings, plus an original sample of the ship’s bell and ambient recording taken inside Scott’s tent), while also including footage of the everyday human intimacy: Scott, Wilson, Evans and Bowers preparing for the trek: hauling the sledge and cooking and sleeping in their tent.

The tragic outcome of the expedition is lent a stark poignancy by Scott’s anguished diary in the intertitles, “It’s a terrible disappointment,” writes Scott, on learning of Roald Amundsen’s success, “and I am very sorry for my loyal companions – Great God! This is an awful place.”

Cast: Robert Falcon Scott, Herbert G Ponting

Herbert G Ponting | British | 1924 (Remastered 2011) | 108 mins | U


            Weighted vote 95.6%

            “I had no idea footage of this existed. What an extraordinary experience watching this was; I was riveted to, and mesmerised by, every frame. I would have paid much more than the year’s membership fee to see this film alone! Thank you for bringing it to Cranbrook.”
            Margie Palmer

            “While I agree that last week’s film was very interesting the awful noise which passed for a soundtrack must have caused great suffering to other viewers as it did to my husband. He suffers from tinnitus and that sort of noise is unbearable. I realise that it was meant to be atmospheric but did it have to be SO loud?”
            Magi Swann