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The Great White Silence

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Genre  Documentary
8.1/10 IMDb

Director  Herbert Ponting
Music director  Simon Fisher Turner
Country  United Kingdom
The Great White Silence movie poster
Release date  1924; restoration re-released in 2011
Production  Gaumont British Distributors
Cast  Herbert Ponting, Robert Falcon Scott
Similar movies  Simon Fisher Turner composed the music for The Great White Silence and Epic of Everest

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The Great White Silence is a 1924 English documentary that contains brief cinematograph sequences taken during the Terra Nova Expedition of 1910–1913. The principal filmmaker was photographer Herbert Ponting. Originally a silent film, the documentary was restored and re-released in 2011 by the British Film Institute with a musical soundtrack by Simon Fisher Turner.


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The Great White Silence, and a successor film with a soundtrack based upon some of the same film sequences, 90° South, were not great commercial successes, and Ponting, the director, died impoverished. However, his work was eventually acclaimed as one of the highest-quality group of images surviving from the so-called Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, and The Great White Silence was unearthed, restored, and re-released in 2011.

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Reviews of the re-release were significantly positive. Marc Lee of The Daily Telegraph called the film "deeply moving" and "startlingly powerful". Cath Clarke of The Guardian gave the film four stars out of five and lauded the "beautiful" restoration work done by the BFI. Sean Axmaker of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, reporting from the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, gave the film a glowing review. "An impressive documentary and a riveting document", he praised the "beautiful still photographs", "eloquent" titles and Ponting's "slow build of trials, disasters and deaths" for being "respectful and affecting". He also noted that "what is unexpectedly impressive is Ponting’s superb storytelling, especially of an event he was unable to photograph [Scott's journey to the pole]."

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