Saturday, October 23, 2010

With Byrd at the South Pole (1930)


This weekend we're taking a look at two Oscar winning documentaries from the early days of the Oscars.

Oscar winning documentary on Byrd at the Antarctic and his attempt to be the first to fly over it.

This beautifully shot record of what Byrd had to do to be the first man to fly over the South Pole is the type of film that sucks you in and hold you for its entire running time. If you want to know what it was like to be one of the first people to explore the bottom of the world this is for you. To be certain others were there first Roald Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton were all there first, but Byrd was still there when there were no permanent facilities and a trip to the ice was a years long adventure. This is amazing stuff (even if some of it seems staged). If there is any real flaw its that the flight to the Pole is almost anti-climatic when compared with just trying to survive.

It should noted that the film is mostly silent. Sound film was really just taking off when the expedition was taking off, and even so the sound equipment would never have passed the weight restrictions. What sound there is comes from an introduction by Byrd, sound effects, and some narration during the actual flight.

Recommended. (More so if you've seen the footage of Ernest Shackleton and his ill fated trip since this adds to your knowledge of what it must have been like for them as well)

This film is currently out on DVD and can be had from the usual sources.

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