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The Great White Silence on dual format in June

17 May 2011

The extraordinary, heart-breaking official record of Captain Scott's legendary final expedition to the South Pole, fully restored by the BFI National Archive, with a new musical score by Simon Fisher Turner, will be released on DVD & Blu-ray for the first time ever in June in a Dual Format Edition.

Captain Robert Scott described Herbert Ponting as ‘an artist in love with his work', and, after the Antarctic expedition's tragic outcome, Ponting devoted the rest of his life to ensuring that the grandeur of the Antarctic and of the expedition's heroism would not be forgotten. The images that he captured have fired imaginations ever since.

Ponting's footage begins in 1910 with the departure of the Terra Nova from 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. Ponting took some of his most impressive footage – showing the ship breaking through the ice – from a makeshift platform over the side of the ship. Once arrived on Ross Island, Ponting filmed almost every aspect of the expedition: the scientific work, life in camp and the local wildlife – including killer whales, seals, Antarctic skuas and the characterful Adélie penguins. What he was unable to film, he boldly recreated back home. Most importantly, Ponting recorded the preparations for the assault on the Pole – from the trials of the caterpillar-track sledges to clothing and cooking equipment – giving us a real sense of the challenges faced by the expedition.

Now, the BFI National Archive – custodian of the expedition negatives – has restored the film using the latest photochemical and digital techniques and reintroduced the film's sophisticated use of colour. The alien beauty of the landscape is brought dramatically to life, showing the world of the expedition in brilliant detail.

The Great White Silence will be released as a Dual Format Edition (containing Blu-ray and DVD) by the BFI on 20th June 2011 at the RRP of £19.99.

Extra features will include:

  • 90 Degree South (1933, 72 mins): Herbert Ponting's final sound version of the legendary footage he shot in 1910–11;
  • The Great White Silence: How Did They Do It? (2011, 20 mins): new documentary about the restoration;
  • The Sound of Silence (2011, 13 mins): new documentary about Simon Fisher Turner's score;
  • Location field recordings (2010, 4 mins): celebrated sound recordist Chris Watson's audio document of the interior of Scott's polar expedition hut, presented in both 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround;
  • Archive newsreel items (1910-1925, 5 mins, DVD only): a selection of archival film extracts which capture the departure and return of the expedition party;
  • Illustrated booklet including an extract from Francis Spufford's I May Be Some Time.