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Great White Silence, The (1924)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

1910. The Terra Nova departs from Lyttleton, on New Zealand's south island, for the Antarctic - a perilous journey during which animals and stores were lost overboard in a gale and the ship had to break through unusual amounts of pack ice for 400 miles to reach the Great Ice Barrier. Footage of the ship breaking through the ice - shot from a makeshift platform over the side of the ship.

The crew arrive on Ross Island, and there is footage of every aspect of the work of the expedition, the unloading of the ship, life in camp, and the scientific work and the local wildlife - killer whales, seals, Antarctic skuas and Adélie penguins. There are occasional maps showing the routes taken by the depot laying teams as the expedition prepares for the assault of the pole, and shots of the landscape round the camp - notably Mount Erebus, different types of ice formations and curious lighting effects produced by the latitude.

Preparations are made for the journey to the Pole - trials of dogs, ponies and caterpillar track sledges, sledges and skis, clothing, cooking equipment and tents. Finally, the polar party - comprising Scott, Evans, Bowers, Oates and Dr Wilson - departs, and the journey is described with use of photographs, excerpts from Scott's diary in intertitles, model shots and portraits and paintings of the lost men. The final shot is of the memorial cross erected to Scott and his companions.