The Last Place on Earth (1985)
Director: Ferdinand Fairfax.
Starring: Martin Shaw (Captain R. F. Scott), Sverre Anker Ousdal (Roald Amundsen), Stephen Moore (Dr. 'Bill' Wilson), Susan Wooldridge (Kathleen Bruce - Mrs. Scott), Max von Sydow (Fridtjof Nansen), Per Theodor Haugen (Leon Amundsen).
the race to the South Pole between Norwegian Roald Amundsen and British Capt. Robert F. Scott, 1910-1912
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
Episode 1. Poles Apart.
The Norwegian explorer Amundsen sits in an igloo, while an Eskimo finishes carving a sculpture from bone for him.
British naval Captain Scott waits outside the door to speak with the commander. The commander blames him for the collision of Scott's battleship with another ship. He adds that he will do everything in his power to prevent a court-martial of Scott. He tells Scott that he is doing this to save his own hide, not Scott's. At the time of the collision, Scott was in his cabin writing a birthday greeting to another officer.
Amundsen and the famous Norwegian arctic explorer Nansen come to speak to a geographical society about Amundsen's possible journey to the North Pole. Amundsen says that Nansen is the father of all polar exploration. Men like Cook, Peary, Scott, himself and others are, in a sense, his sons. A Sir Clements Markham speaks to one of the big shots of the society. He accuses the society of backing the explorer Shackleton in an expedition to the South Pole. And Shackleton proposes using Scott's base there. The official says he will not divulge the plans of any explorer.
Nansen tells Amundsen that Johansson, strong as a bull, saved his life twice. Amundsen asks Nansen if he could use Nansen's ship the Fram. Nansen says he still has hope that his days of exploration are not over. He will let Amundsen know, if he decides not to do any more exploring. He adds that Shackleton appears headed for the South Pole and may, therefore, make senseless a voyage to the South Pole for him and that would make the Fram available to Amundsen.
By phone Clements Markham delivers the news about Shackleton to Scott. Shackleton is thinking of using Scott's old base and asking Scott's scientific adviser Bill Wilson to go with him. Markham tells Scott to find Wilson and bind Wilson to himself. So Scott takes a train ride out to see Wilson. He tells Wilson that Shackleton is only doing this out of revenge for Scott having sacked Shackleton, who was a real liability to the expedition. Scott insists that Shackleton does not deserve to be the first to the South Pole.
So Wilson goes to see Shackleton. Shackleton shows Wilson the Siberian ponies that he is going to use instead of dogs for the trip. They take a walk to Waterloo Place and talk while walking. Shackleton tells Wilson that at no time did he know that Scott had any plans for going to the South Pole, so there can be no question of his withdrawing from his planned expedition. He goes on to say that Scott nearly killed Bill and he out on the barrier with his antics. Shackleton insists on going, but agrees not to use Scott's base and signs a statement to that effect.
Scott arrives at a fancy party. He goes upstairs to see Kathleen Bruce, who herself is a very bold, adventurous person. She just came back from traveling in Greece. Kathleen has a prior dinner engagement, but cancels it so that Scott can escort her home. Scott is a bit worried that this might cause a scandal for Miss Bruce, but she doesn't care. She brings him up to her apartment. Scott says: "You are an extraordinary woman, Miss Bruce." In her apartment she has a painting of her dearest friend the dancer Isadora Duncan. The two sit down by the fireplace. She has him brush her hair.
Amundsen comes to see Hansen. He hears Mrs. Nansen crying as she speaks with her husband about his possibly being away for a long time. Nansen steps out on the second floor balcony to say that Amundsen shall have the Fram.
Amundsen's brother Leon speaks with Roald. He tells his brother that his house construction is costing them a great deal of money. Roald tells him: "Great men must live in great houses." A number of Roald's most trusted men, some from the Northwest Passage expedition, gather at the house to talk about an expedition. The local carpenter, who is finishing the house, also comes to the meeting. Leon, as business manager, also attends. Roald tells his guests that he now has the Fram. Everyone is pleased to hear this and they agree to go on the expedition (which will happen within a year's time, says Roald).
Kathleen Bruce goes to see Scott's 67 year old mother. There she meet Scott's sister Grace. The other sister is named Kitty. Grace tells Kathleen that their mother has a very special relationship to her son. Kathleen assures her that she has no desire to be Scott's mother.
Scott experiments with the use of a motorized vehicle to pull the supplies over snow and ice. There always seems to be, however, some mechanical problem with the sledge.
Scott goes to dinner with one of his financial backers. He tells him that the motorized trials are going well and feels that this will be the key to their journey to the South Pole. Scott, however, has to tell his backer that the sum for testing and improving the motorized sledge is going to cost a considerable amount of more money than what was requested originally. The backer is told the amount and dismisses it as a paltry sum. He now turns to news in the paper about Shackleton. Despite his signing an agreement with Wilson and Scott, Shackleton is using Scott's old base, McMurdo. His boat, the Nimrod, is back in New Zealand now. Scott tries to hide his being upset over the news.
He is so discouraged that he travels to see Kathleen to get a new burst of encouragement and energy. Scott asks her to teach him to be like her, free and bold. He feels that he has not received the recognition he deserves. Scott also tells Kathleen that he loves her. He asks her how he can make her happy and she says she will be happy if he gives her a son, a special son of a special father. She does not want a "mere" husband, but rather a "great" husband so she can have some of that greatness in her. Scott is grateful to her for her support and encouragement.
Scott and Kathleen attend a formal dinner in honor of Shackleton and his accomplishments. Clements tells Scott he shouldn't be here. He says Scott should announce his own plans on his own time and ground. Scott hears him, but will continue with his plan to make an announcement to the group. While everyone talks at the table, Scott bangs a gavel and offers a toast to Shackleton. He says Shackleton journeyed within 97 miles of the South Pole. He declares that he will be the successor to Shackleton to try to reach the South Pole itself. The toast is to Mr. Shackleton and his deeds.
Scott speaks to the press and to the public about his plans to reach the South Pole and to do extensive scientific research. He places his life savings into the Appeals Fund for the expedition. He is now married to Miss Bruce and the press asks him will it be a girl or a boy. He says his wife has decreed that it shall be a boy.
Leon and Roald speak together. Roald is preparing his presentation before the Parliamentary committee. Leon has some upsetting news, however. He says he saw Cook in Copenhagen. He claims he reached the North Pole. Roald is shocked. Amundsen travels to speak with Cook, who says they are old friends from the Belgian days. Cook says he did not see Peary up there. Amundsen salutes Cook for his feat. He also tells Cook that he is going to do research in the arctic and reach the North Pole too. Cook tells him he would just be redoing what Nansen has already done and why would anyone do that now that he himself has reached the North Pole. Amundsen says he can't change his plans.
Amundsen changes his supply orders for even more equipment. He asks the official to keep his private thoughts to himself.
Kathleen goes into labor.
At Parliament, a speaker denounces Amundsen and his expensive plans. He opposes his plan. (Amundsen comes back home from seeing Cook in Copenhagen, Denmark.) Parliament will not give further funding to Amundsen. Leon warns his brother that the trip will cost Roald too much money. He will have to work the rest of his life to pay off the debts.
Kathleen has given birth to a baby boy. She names him Peter Markham Scott. Scott holds his son with tears in his eyes.
Amundsen meets with a favored journalist in a church cemetery. He gives the man an exclusive to his plans in the North Pole. He wants the journalist to print as much of it as he can. After the journalist leaves, Leon tells his brother that this is financial madness. But Roald has a special plan, unannounced. They will go by way of Cape Horn and on the way to Alaska, will make a diversion to the South Pole. "Wouldn't that be a coup of sorts?" Leon says the plan is brilliant. The key to their success will be absolute secrecy -- tell no one. Leon says they could probably go to jail for this -- it could even be treason. Only if they fail, says his brother.
Episode 2. Minor Diversions.
Petty Officer Evans is working on shortening the sledges for the trip. Mr. Scott is talking with Cecil Meares, whose job it is to go to Siberia and bring back 19 Siberian ponies and 35 Siberian dogs. Meares tells Scott that he wants him to know that while he knows dogs, he knows nothing about ponies. Scott says he is of the opinion that if a man knows one animal well, then he also knows all the rest of the animals. He expects to see Meares in New Zealand in early October.
Amundsen is going around contacting his old expedition mates to get them to go on the coming expedition.
Scott says that one Lt. Teddy Evans is going around collecting money for an expedition of his own. Sir Markham has tried to dissuade the man, but the lieutenant has his price. He will give up all his funds to Scott, as long as Scott agrees to make him his number one. The problem is that Scott sort of promised Reg Skeleton he could be his number one man.
Nansen writes a letter to Amundsen saying he is quite sad that Amundsen has not thought to keep him informed of the progress being made on the expedition plans. Amundsen continues contacting men to go with him on the expedition.
Scott talks with Sir Markham about Teddy Evans. The lieutenant and his wife arrive to meet Scott. Mrs. Evans thinks Mrs. Scott a bit too forward and rude.
Nansen writes Amundsen that he is going to help Scott with the motorized sledge trials and he is anxious to help Amundsen too if he only will write and tell him how, when and where. Amundsen's carpenter is designing and building an arctic residence for the expedition crew. The building will be deconstructed and placed on the Fram. Leon gives Roald the letter from Nansen and tells him that Nansen is getting worried, because he thinks the Amundsen brothers are up to something. Amundsen tells his brother to tell Nansen that he is away on a trip. He also asks Leon to tell Nansen that his brother will talk with this Johansen fellow that is a favorite of Nansen. Leon asks Roald if he will be able to deal with this outspoken Johansen fellow. Roald says he doesn't know.
Amundsen talks with Johansen. He tells Johansen to read the final paragraph of the standard agreement for the men. The paragraph has the men swear to obey the leader of the expedition at any and every time and place. He wonder sif Johansen can sign it. Johansen gulps over it, but signs the agreement.
Nansen is there to witness the motorized sledge trials. One of the axels snaps. Reg Skelton is the driver and Scott asks to speak to him later. Nansen introduces Scott to a protégé of his, a young man. The young man wants to show Scott the value of overland skiing as a means of transportation. He volunteers to travel by skies to the machine shop to get another axel. Mrs. Scott asks Nansen if perhaps the young man might go with the expedition as the ski instructor. Nansen is pleased.
Scott tells Reg that he can't be his number one man. This really upsets Reg and voices are raised. Reg tells Scott he can go to hell. He walks out on him.
Amundsen does not show up for his appointment with Scott. On the phone he pretends he is his brother Leon and tells Scott that he doesn't know where Roald is. Scott is annoyed and disappointed.
At the dock where Scott's ship the Terra Nova is being loaded, Captain Oates reports for duty. Capt. Campbell has Lt. Evans show Oates to his quarters. Oates will be in charge of the ponies. When he sees Scott he asks him why wasn't he asked to go to Siberia to help select the ponies. Scott says it's because at the time Oates was in South Africa.
The Royal Geographical Society holds a dinner to honor Captain Scott. The attendees make a toast to Scott and to his expedition. Scott makes a few remarks to the audience.
There is a big send off for the crew of the Terra Nova. Scott will go on the mail packet ship to Australia and meet the ship there.
Amundsen has a very simple send off dinner with just his crew and Leon at his house. The next stop will be Madeira. Roald says goodbye to Leon and their mother. He tells her he won't be back for some five years. From his house Nansen sees the Fram depart.
Funchal Roads, Madeira. Leon comes aboard the ship. Roald is now ready to tell his crew they are first heading to the South Pole. He tells them and then asks who is coming with him? They all say yes. Leon is rowed back to land. Amundsen now sends a cable to Scott which says: "Dear Scott. Regret to inform you, heading south. Amundsen."
Episode 3. Leading Men.
Mrs. Scot comes aboard the ship. She greets her husband with: "Here! The mail!" And one of the messages is from Amundsen dated October 2. Kathleen reads it out to Scott, who is just as shocked as she is. Scott says: "Makes no sense." Oates breaks the bad news about the ponies to Meares. He says they will just not do. Oates finally gets to see Scott in the hall. He says: "The ponies are no good, sir. I thought you should know." He even says if he were Scott he would not take the ponies with him. They are old, slit, lame or ringwormed. Scott is not at all pleased with the report, but Oates doesn't want to get blamed when the ponies can't perform.
Lt. Evans discharges senior petty officer Evans for being drunk and falling overboard. Scott asks his wife if she can cope if he doesn't return. She says yes. He says lately he has been thinking that he might not be able to make it back. P.O. Evans comes to speak with Scott about getting his job back. Scott overrides Lt. Evans. When Teddy learns about this, he becomes angry and confronts Scott with his resignation. Scott has to reassure Lt. Evans of his importance to the expedition.
Scott's ship gets stuck in the ice.
Amundsen tells his crew they will land at the Bay of Whales. He tells the men it's land there, but Johansen wonders out loud if Amundsen can really be sure since no one has actually landed there. Amundsen doesn't care for Johansen's doubts. The Fram lands with no problems.
Cape Evans Base, McMurdo Sound. Scott's crew unloads their gear from the ship. They build winter quarters there. A motorized sledge is brought up. It is used to pull another motorized sledge and two regular sledges. The temperature is warm and the ice not thick enough for the sledge. It soon sinks into a watery hole pulling the other three sledges in with it. Some of the crew run to save the gear, but fall through the ice and have to be rescued.
Three crew members from the British Antarctic Expedition come to greet Captain Amundsen. Amundsen has the three men come onboard for breakfast. The British men say they were stuck in the ice pack for three weeks. Amundsen, however, found an easy route and made it through in three days. The Brits ask the Norwegians to pay a visit to their ship. Amundsen onboard the Terra Nova wonders out loud if the ponies will work. He says ponies and dogs are two different species: different speeds, different foods, different care, different handling.
After the Norwegians leave, one of the three Brits says that Amundsen's crew consists of all seasoned men, who know what they are doing. And they are 60 miles closer to the pole than Scott is.
Amundsen is not sure if the British are ahead or behind them, but he says they need to set up their food and other supply depots. They will make three runs, starting small and then building. One will be at 80 degrees, while one may be as far as 82 degrees or even 83 degrees. The journey is 2,000 miles to the pole. Once again, Johansen doubts Amundsen's plans. The next day Amundsen and part of his crew move out to establish the first supply depot.
Scott starts out with some of his men. They have to walk the ponies by hand. Two hours later, the dog sledge led by Meares starts out. They soon pass by Scott and his slow ponies. This makes Scott mad. They come into camp an hour and a half after Meares and his dogs arrive. Scott scolds Meares, telling him to go slower with the dogs next time. At night the winds really howl around the men. The next day the men go over a hill of ice and snow with the ponies and make a mess of it. The weather turns worse and the men have to make camp.
A pony wears out and the dogs try to eat it. The men have to fight the dogs to keep them from going on a feeding frenzy. The men have to shoot the pony in the head to put it out of its misery. A little while later another pony goes down. Scott says all the ponies will die if they go on. So he is going to depot their supplies here and return to base. Oates says turning back will not save the ponies, but Scott says he is tired of all this cruelty toward the animals. Captain Oates then warns Scott that he may one day regret his decision. Scott dismisses the idea. So the men depot their supplies (11 miles short of their target), cover them up and move out after sticking a red flag on top of the snow mound. They call this point One Ton Depot. Amundsen is considerably ahead of Scott and his men.
Amundsen says their work is done and they can go back to base.
Scott, his men and the ponies reach home base. Scott learns for the first time that Amundsen's base is very close to his own base. He says this is "outrageous". He goes on to say: "I have half a mind to go shoot the bugger myself. How dare he?"
Amundsen congratulates his crew on placing three tons of supplies a good ways out.
Episode 4. Gentlemen and Players.
Framheim, May 1911. Amundsen asks about the sledges and Johansen and Oscar Wisting say that they now weigh only 48 pounds, down from 150.
Over at Cape Evans, most of the men are busy playing soccer. Scott says he is finding himself putting off certain tasks he should get done. When the game ends, Scott meets with Lt. Evans. Later, in the pony stables Oates and Meares ask Teddy what Scott told him. Scott told him to mind his own business after Teddy suggested they cancel the western party expedition and use the extra resources to strengthen the party heading for the pole. Meares says that there is no overall plan, as far as he can tell.
Scott tells Bill he is feeling very low and sometimes he forgets how he got to Antarctica. He doesn't think the motorized sledges will be of any use and the dogs won't get very far. Scott is tired of having to sit and wait for the warmer weather. He even asks Bill Wilson to stay with him as he in the dumps. Bill tells him to get some sleep.
At Framheim, Amundsen celebrates mid-winter with a cake made by chef Lindstrom. The cake is also a map. It is 1900 miles out to the pole. Amundsen wants to make the earliest possible start in September in order to beat the British to the pole. It will takes 60 days out and 60 days back to make the entire journey. Some of the men say that September is too early, but Amundsen believes it can be done.
Scott tells his men that since their three methods of transportation are doubtful, the men have to be extremely fit physically (to "manhaul" the sledges themselves). He tells the men that he wouldn't have it any other way. Somehow he romantically thinks it's more noble, if the men can make it to the pole just by their own efforts.
At Framheim the men play with a toy female mechanical doll that can put itself into a ball and turn itself over and over again. Amundsen decides to push on after three better days of weather. He thinks the weather will hold that way. The chef warns him it's still too early to go. Amundsen goes. Most of the men use their long skis, while the dogs pull the sledges.
Capt. Oates writes his mother saying that he dislikes Scott intensely. He writes: "The fact of the matter is he's not straight. It is himself first, the rest nowhere. And when he has got what he can out of you, it is shift for yourself." He also writes that he does have a fair chance to be in the final group that reaches the pole, that is, if he and Scott don't have a falling out.
Amundsen's party runs into blizzard conditions. They have to stop and build an igloo to protect themselves from the winds and the 69.3 below zero temperature. Two dogs freeze to death. Some of the men have frostbite on their toes. Amundsen says they will hole up for a couple of days to see if the weather improves. The always carping Johansen says they must admit they made a mistake and turn back. This angers Amundsen. Most of the men agree with Johansen, so Amundsen says tomorrow they will reach the 80 degree mark to establish a supply depot and then they will go back.
The next day Amundsen tells his men they have forty miles to go and he wants to do it without stopping. Johansen is mad. Lindstrom is surprised when he sees Amundsen and two other men arrive back in camp. The others are "coming". After awhile two other men arrive. Another man arrives. Now it's just Johansen still out there. Amundsen admits to the chef that it was a mistake. The chef says it was a "fiasco". Johansen finally arrives back and he looks mad as hell. The captain says something about it taking Johansen so long and Johansen goes ballistic, even telling Amundsen that he is not fit to lead. Amundsen says he asked them to go back the 60 miles non-stop, because 24 more hours out in the cold men would be losing limbs.
Amundsen announces some changes. He will reduce the polar party down to five men. He puts Johansen under a young man to explore King Edward Land. Johansen tells the captain to go to hell! He demands that Amundsen put that in writing. Amundsen hands him the pre-written order. Now the captain speaks to each one of the men individually.
Cape Evans, November 1, 1911. The men prepare to move out. The ponies and the motorized sledge move out. Oates and Meares are very skeptical of this "circus". Amundsen is still held up by bad weather. Scott finds the motorized sledge abandoned. The men left a note saying they are proceeding onward as ordered. The dogs quickly pass the stalled pony party. The motorized launch is left behind.
As soon as the weather improves, Amundsen pulls out. Johansen tries to shake Amundsen's hand goodbye, but Amundsen refuses. The chef gives Wisting a box of cigars to smoke at Christmas. The party moves out, while Johansen goes back into the barracks.
Episode 5. The Glories of the Race.
The Amundsen party is making good progress and make much greater progress than Scott and his party. Amundsen says tomorrow the work will begin in earnest. The next day the progress is slowed by bad weather. The next day, however, is a real beauty. And they see see the great barrier which they will have to cross. They double up on the dogs. Amundsen says all the dogs will go up, but only 18 will go on to the plateau. They make good progress through the mountains. They give themselves ten days for the journey. To slow the sledges going downhill, the men sit on them as the dos pull them along. Wisting finds a way through the mountains and says they will be out of the mountain by tomorrow evening.
At night nine shots are fired to get rid of the excess dogs. Some are cut up for food. The men are discouraged at having to kill and eat the dogs, but Amundsen says they have to do it.
Scott arrives at the supply depot. Lt. Evans and his men have already been there for a week. Scott is mad. He tells the men they are falling further and further behind Shackleton's schedule and "it just won't do." He again scolds Meares for going too fast with his dogs. He wants them to leave four hours after Scott leaves.
Amundsen and Wisting ski out to take a look at the plateau in front of them. They made it through the mountain in just four days. Wisting asks what they should call the area and Amundsen says: "Call it what it is: the Butcher Shop". Back at camp they are still butchering the dead dogs for their meat. They have been holed up for five days and Amundsen wants to go on. They decide to go on. All of a sudden they reach the edge of a cliff. They find a way down and then find some strange ice formations. There are small chimney like objects sticking out from the ice. One man goes out with an axe and breaks off the top of one of the chimneys. He says all he can see is a black hole going all the way down "to the basement". The men push on.
With Scott's party, another pony goes down and is shot. Scott calls a meeting. Meares is down and out and doesn't come to the meeting. Birdie says that they are overdrawn on their rations by four days. Scott proposes that they kill the ponies to put them out of their misery and use the food for the men and dogs. Oates says no. The food the horses will provide will barely cover the energy expended by the men pulling their own sledges. And they won't be able to leave supplies at the depot.
Bill Wilson takes a look at the eyes of Meares. The men talk about who will be in the final party. P.O. Evans wants to be one of those that reach the pole. Meares tells Wilson that he is going back tomorrow. He characterizes his orders from Scott as confused, stupid, inept or incompetent. He says Scott is crass, arrogant and irresponsible. Meares tells Bill to tell Scott that he is quitting the expedition altogether. Another pony is shot. Now the "manhauling" begins. In groups of four, the men pull three sledges along. The dogs are used on other sledges.
The next day Meares leaves the party with some of the dogs. Just before he goes, Scott tells Meares to put himself out from under his (Scott's) command. Meares is happy to do so.
Amundsen and his party are now on the Polar Plateau and getting closer and closer to the pole. Amundsen is out in front. They pass Shackelton's historic line. It is less than 97 miles to reach the pole. The men huddle together for the planting of the Norwegian flag. It's December 8, 1911. Amundsen salutes the brave men who showed the way. The men then sing a Norwegian song.
Episode 6. Foregone Conclusions.
Polar Plateau, December 12, 1911. Amundsen and his crew take a reading of the meridian. They need the sun, which now peaks out a bit. The captain says: "Thank you, your grace." It's 89-16. Just what Amundsen thought it would read from dead reckoning.
Beardmore Glacier 83-35, December 12, 1911. Scott and his crew are manhauling their sledges up a hill. Now all the dogs are gone. Scott blames Lt. Evans for the disappointing performance of his men. Bill Wilson speaks with Hatch consoling him on not being chosen to be one of those who go on to the pole. Silas Wright will also not be going. Hatch tells Bill that P.O. Evans should not be chosen. Bill draws a sketch of the area. Lt. Evans asks Bill if he knows who is going on. Bill says it hasn't been decided as of yet.
Lt. Evans tries to show Scott and his crew that his crew is better, so he tries to pull ahead of Scott, but fails. At a rest point, Scott tells Bill that Scott and Bill's team will go on. Bill says, however, that he has some doubts about Titus Oates. He also tells Scott that Hatch thinks Lashley would be a better bet than P. O. Evans. Scott doesn't agree, saying Evans is stronger than all of them. Now Scott tells Lt. Evans to leave his skis behind and come on. Evans really objects to this, but Scott insists that they are to travel on foot.
On foot Lt. Evans and his team try to keep up with Scott and his men on skis. No matter how much they try, they can't catch up with Scott and exhaust themselves into being forced to stop. Evans is besides himself. The next morning P.O. Evans cuts his right thumb working on the sledge. Scott goes to Teddy's tent to tell him not to take all this personally. He is sending Teddy back with a three man team, while he keeps Birdie. Evans tells him just to make it an order, but Scott says he would prefer if Teddy agreed. Teddy reluctantly agrees. Now Scott tells Birdie that he is taking him with the polar party. He then sends Birdie over to cheer up Teddy.
Scott tells everyone who is going on and who is going back. Bill warns Scott that Birdie has no skis, but Scott dismisses the matter. Teddy and two men turn back. Scott, Bill Wilson, Titus Oates, P.O. Evans, Birdie and another man go on.
Amundsen is out front. The crew stops and discusses the matter that they only have half a mile to go. They are going to stay back from their leader to make sure there is no question as to who reached the South Pole first. They will shout for Amundsen to stop after he has passed the line. The men follow after Amundsen. Amundsen senses he is getting close because he is really skiing rapidly. The yell goes out for Amundsen to stop and he does. The men are very happy while Amundsen seems more in a contemplative mood. All five men plant the Norwegian flag. The crew wants Amundsen to say something, but the captain doesn't want to. But the men insist that the captain say something in honor of the occasion. So Amundsen thanks his men for their contribution. He says to be honest he has no grand feeling. After all, his childhood dream was to be the first to the North Pole and yet he is at exactly the opposite end of the earth. He does comment on how good it is to be alive. They make camp.
In the morning the crew sets up sails on their two sledges and with the dogs pull out for their long trip home. Amundsen says that they must get back quickly to reach the telegraph first and not the British. Wisting breaks out Lindstrom's cigars and they all begin smoking them. He gives the extra cigars in the box to the captain. The men start on a slow but steady pace back.
Scott and his crew manhaul their sledge. Bill's eyes are hurting him and he keeps them covered when in the tent. The men get very little food at night. In the morning they continue their journey hoping to reach the pole. All of a sudden Birdie spots a flag. As the men approach, they can see a black flag flying. Near it is a Norwegian tent. still standing, with the flag waving over the top of the tent. The men are discouraged. Bill hugs Scott, who cries on his shoulder. Inside the tent Scott finds two letters and a book left behind by Amundsen. Bill takes a photograph of the men in front of the Norwegian tent.
Amundsen is back at his camp. The captain of the ship tells Amundsen that the British have already cast him in the role of the villain. And they took away the award for reaching the North Pole from Cook and gave it to Peary. They said that Cook fiddled with his readings. He then asks Amundsen, what it was like? Amundsen answers: "A terrible place."
Scott's crew says they are lost. Scott doesn't know the way. P. O. Evans starts breaking down and complains loudly to himself. Scott yells at Evans to pull himself together. For dinner the men only have one large, hard biscuit each. Scott puts some eye drops in Bill's eyes. P.O. Evans takes his boots and socks off and the worse foot looks ghastly. It is all bright white with blackened toes. The men's bad luck continues and they go off course and end up in a maze of fissures and crevices. The crew is extremely relieved and happy to find the depot and their ration of three and a half days of food.
P.O. Evans lags way behind the other men pulling the sledge. He sings and talks to himself. He keeps falling farther behind. Suddenly Evans makes a left turn off the trail. Scott says the man has become impossible. At dinner the men say they must go find Evans. Evans himself just lays down in the snow to die.
The men find P. O. Evans frozen to death. They bury him under a mound of snow. They mark the grave with a cross.
Episode 7. Rejoice.
The men are closing in on the One Ton Depot. But it takes them forever to make any distance. One day they make only four miles. They reach a small depot, but find very little fuel or food there left for them. Titus cuts one of his boots off of his. The foot now looks worse than the foot of Evans.
Back at Cape Evans, Hatch tells the two newer fellows that Lt. Evans came back as part of a three man crew. Five of the men went on to the pole. Evans and the two men came back in a weakened condition, suffering from scurvy. The surgeon Hatch tells one of the young men, Cherry Garrard, that he will have to make the run to the One Ton Depot with Dimitri to see if they can find Scott. Titus starts falling behind the group like Evans had done. In the evening Titus seems to be on his last legs. Birdie recognizes that they will run out of food thirteen miles from One Ton Depot. And even to get to the depot, they must have the weather on their side and the weather is not cooperating. Titus notes that if they had laid the One Ton Depot where they had planed to originallyt, they would already be at the depot. He says: "It seems a high price to pay for a pair of ponies who were bound to die anyway." Titus was the one who had urged Scott to keep going and then warned him that he might live to regret his decision.
Cherry Garrard and Dimitri reach One Ton Depot, but there is no sign of Scott. Cherry decides to return to Cape Evans.
Titus hangs onto the sledge as the healthier three men pull the sledge and Titus along. Cherry Garrard and Dimitri set off for home. At night, Titus asks the others to leave him behind. They refuse. Titus tells them to leave him the gun, but there is no gun. Bill gives Titus a shot for the pain in his frozen foot. The temperatures are so very low and the winds ferocious. The men hole up in their tent. It's March 17 and Titus says he thinks it's his birthday. Without boots or socks on and without a coat, Titus crawls out into the snow to die saying: "It's the call of nature, Birdie." Now it's just the three of the men left. Scott says his right foot has become useless now. In the evening he writes that they got within 11 miles of One Ton Depot. The men seem close to dying. Scott writes letters to Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Bowers, to his mother and wife, and others. He and Birdie are the only ones left alive now.
Cape Evans. Seven months later. Hatch says that he thinks they have to find Scott and the others. The world will want to know what happened to them.
In Britain Amundsen presents his slide show. Afterwards, the head of the British Royal Geographical Society thanks Amundsen for a simple and uncomplicated report on what must have been a simple and uncomplicated journey. Amundsen does not like the sound of that. The president praises Scott and says he can't wait until he is up here presenting his valuable report. Amundsen resents what the president has said. Some members of the audience line up to get Amundsen's signature on a copy of his polar book. He tells his brother Leon to book him a passage home now. He calls the audience "ignorant people".
At home Amundsen gets a call from Nansen. Nansen is super critical of Amundsen. The nation, the government and he himself will not forgive Amundsen if he does not complete his planned research in the North Pole. Instead, Amundsen will next go to New York, USA, to give talks and raise money to pay his former crew the monies that were promised to them. He says Amundsen is flagrantly abandoning a clear duty. Nansen wants to be able to tell the King that Amundsen has set a firm date to go to the North Pole. He goes on to say that he defended Amundsen when he was called a rogue, a cheat, a liar. Amundsen is a bit upset and he tells Nansen to tell the King that he will be in America getting the money to pay the debts incurred on the southern trip and to raise money for a new trip north. He has no idea when he will be ready to leave for the north. Nansen says he is disappointed and that he had expected more from the first man to the South Pole. Amundsen says he also expected more, more from Nansen. More in the way of friendship. Nansen says that was just not meant to be.
Hatch leads a party of men out to find Scott and his men. They come upon the tent where the three men died. Hatch goes up to it by himself. He slits the tent open. He sees the three men sitting huddled next to each other in the hut. They are all frozen to death. Scott's hands still rest upon his diary. Their faces are extremely white. Hatch tells the others to come up and see this, Bill first.
Hatch reads Scott's "Message to the Public": "The causes of the disaster are not due to faulty organization, but to misfortune in all risks which had to be undertaken. One, the loss of pony transport in March 1911 obliged me to start later than I had intended and obliged the limits of stuff transported to be narrowed . Two, the weather throughout the outward journey and especially the long gale in 83 degrees stopped us. Three, the soft snow in the lower reaches of the Beardford Glacier again reduced the pace.. We fought these untoward events with a will and conquered and it cut into our provisional reserves. Every detail of our food supplies, clothing and depots made on the interior ice sheet and over that long stretch of 700 miles to the pole and back worked out to perfection . But all the facts above enumerated were as nothing to the surprise which awaited us on the barrier and our wreck is certainly due to this sudden advent of severe weather, which does not seem to have any satisfactory cause. I do not think human beings ever came through such a month as we have come through. For my own sake, I do not regret this journey which has shown that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another and meet death with as great a fortitude as ever in the past. Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale. . . ."
Amundsen sits in his hot bath. Leon goes through the mail. The telephone rings and Leon takes a message. It was from Nansen. Amundsen goes on a rant against Nansen and his other critics. Leon stops Roald by simply saying: "Scott is dead. The whole party, five of them, perished on the barrier coming back from the pole, starved to death in their tent." Roald answers: "It's quite a coup. He wins at the last. He wins."
Of course, Mrs. Scott is upset about the death. She is on a panel of inquiry as to what to do about the coverage of the story in the media. The panel tells Hatch to be very careful about his report on the death of Scott and his men. The panel wants Scott's story to be told in just the right way. They even censor passages in Scott's diary. The book is named: "Scott's Last Expedition".
Fort Leavenworth Penitentiary, April 1913. When in the USA Amundsen visits his old friend Cook in prison. Cook was in stocks and bonds and wound up charged with fraud. Cook asks him how was the South Pole? Amundsen says: "Cold." Cook tells Amundsen not to brood. Scott killed himself, he says. The guard escorts Amundsen out of the room and asks the explorer if it's he who first reached the South Pole. The Norwegian says yes, even though the guard thought he was Swedish. The guard does tell Amundsen some news: Johansen committed suicide by shooting himself through the mouth. Amundsen says, yes, he knew the man.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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