DRAMAS/FICTIONAL MOVIES ABOUT ANTARCTICA
Compiled by Valmar Kurol
© Valmar Kurol (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016)
NOTE: This valuable resource is kindly provided by Valmar Kurol (Montreal Antarctic Society/Societe Antarctique de Montreal).
Valmar Kurol can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Launched: 10 May 2009. Last Updated: 31 January 2016
For further reference, other Antarctic and Arctic film and television program listings have been compiled by Elizabeth Leane (Australia) and Laura Kay (U.S.A.) and their Web sites links are included below:
PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR (2014) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Simon J. Smith and franchise veteran Eric Darnell, this DreamWorks Animation theatrical feature film continues with the escapades of a group of four New York Central Park Zoo penguins. After a flashback to the Antarctic origins of these penguins, voiced by Werner Herzog, director of the Antarctic documentary Encounters at the End of the World, the birds encounter the evil scheming plans and mutation ray of the octopus, Dr. Octavius Brine, miffed at losing his star position to penguins. Drawing from references to James Bond films and set in locations around the world, the film engages with witty dialogue and plenty of action.
THE PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR – OPERATION: ANTARCTICA (2012) (U.S.A.)
The Penguins of Madagascar is an award-winning animated Nickelodeon TV series, which began in 2009. The characters are based on those in the DreamWorks film series Madagascar and include four penguins, which form an elite squad to protect their turf in New York’s Central Park Zoo. This ½-hour episode, with supervising director David Knott, was first aired in January 2012 and is included in a seven-episode DVD. In it, a leopard seal pup ends up in the nets of Antarctic poachers and arrives in New York. After being rescued by one of the penguins, the seal pup is escorted back to Antarctica by the penguins, which become the targets of the pup’s father and his predator friends. Things get straightened out when one of the penguins saves the life of the seal pup’s father.
SOUTH OF SANITY (2012) (U.K.)
Directed by Kirk Watson and Mathew Edwards, featuring the directors and 12 scientists and contractors from the British Antarctic Survey. This was the first feature fiction film shot entirely in the Antarctic, by a BAS crew with spare time and creativity on their hands. Director Watson had six years of experience working in Antarctica as a mountaineering guide and Edwards, the scriptwriter, was the London-based BAS doctor. In the plot, a rescue team arrives at an Antarctic base that has gone silent, and finds no survivors. The station log describes the mayhem as the residents are killed one by one by a mysterious villain. The actors were reported to have used available food colouring, white flour and syrup for the fake blood.
NAZIS AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (aka as BLOODSTORM) (2012) (U.S.A.)
A direct-to-video mockbuster, directed by Joseph Lawson, featuring Jake Busey (son of actor Gary) and Dominique Swain. Two Antarctic field research scientists are abducted by Nazi soldiers after they discover a metal panel with swastikas, in the ice. The remaining scientists join in the search for their missing team. A crevasse leads them to a secret underground world in which zombie Nazis, led by Dr. Josef Mengele, are trying to build up their decaying army, regenerate Hitler’s head into a robot-Hitler and to conquer Earth. The film is known more for outrageous gore and plot scenes and massive, cheesy use of computer generated graphics than for any dramatic or other redeeming values.
TAPPY TOES (2011) (U.S.A.)
Directed by American animator Darrell Van Citters, this is a 41-minute low-budget mockbuster animated film, based on the high-tech animation of HAPPY FEET (2006). Pingo, a young penguin, finds a pair of tap shoes in a trunk and discovers a talent for dancing, which helps him fight off a sea lion and hermit crab, to find love and be reunited with his long-lost parents.
NANKYOKU TAIRIKU (ANTARCTICA) (2011) (Japan)
Directed by Katsuo Fukuzawa, this is a Japanese television drama series, which ran in ten episodes from October to December 2011, made to commemorate Tokyo Broadcasting System’s 60th anniversary. The story is based on the 1958 first Japanese Antarctic Expedition, which ended up stranding a pack of 15 sled dogs on the continent over a winter season, two of which had survived when the team returned a year later.
HAPPY FEET TWO (2011) (U.S.A.)
The 3D movie sequel to 2006’s Happy Feet is again directed by George Mitchell, with voices by Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Hank Azaria, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Pink and others. The Emperor Penguin, Mumbles, the star of Happy Feet, is now the father of Erik and there are new character arrivals on the Antarctic scene. After the colony is trapped following an iceberg collapse, Erik and the other chicks must find a way to rescue it. While the plots may be confusing, the movie benefits from two comical krill and more feats of endearing tap dancing.
THE THING (2011) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., featuring May Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton and Ulrich Thomsen and a cast of Swedish and Norwegian actors. This film was developed as the prequel to the 1982 classic of the same name by John Carpenter, in which an alien being takes on human form at an American Antarctic base, following its discovery at a deserted Norwegian base. The current film explains the beginnings of the 1982 film. A gritty female scientist is invited to a dig at a Norwegian base in Antarctica, where the scientists uncover an alien and its space ship buried in the ice. Paranoia ensues. While one film review had fun with descriptions of “an animate pile of chocolate Jell-O adorned with a couple of half-eaten human heads” and “a series of attacks and counter-attacks with an overused flame-thrower” (Globe & Mail), it seems to have been accepted as “no great thing but just a better Thing than expected” (Globe & Mail) and “a whole lot better than it had any right to be” (Montreal Gazette). Orchestrated music is by the American composer Marco Beltrami. Both films were predated by the original The Thing (From Another World), a 1951 movie by Howard Hawks, in which the polar base was an Arctic one, rather than Antarctic. All three films were based on the 1938 short story, Who Goes There?, by John W. Campbell.
MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS (2011) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Mark Waters, featuring Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino and Angela Lansbury. A divorced upwardly mobile businessman receives six unwelcome penguins from his father. His ex-wife and children arrive for a birthday party and are smitten with the penguins, but to the detriment of his work. The plot is very loosely based on a 1938 book by Richard and Florence Atwater of the same name. The film has garnered both hot and cold reviews, based on opinions of Jim Carrey’s performance.
PINGU - 4 Feature Set (2011) (Switzerland/ U.K.)
Pingu was a Swiss children’s cartoon series created by Otmar Gutmann for BBC Television. A total of 157 5-minute shorts were produced over 1986-1998 and from 2004-2005. The shows were based at Antarctica’s South Pole, where claymation penguins, led by Pingu and his family and friends lived through adventures. One of the attractions of the series was the lack of any spoken dialogue and reliance on penguin sounds to convey a universal language. While numerous compilations have been issued in various countries over the years, this set of four DVDs has 30 episodes and is a good overview of the series.
FROST GIANT (2010) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Victor Garcia. A Syfy Channel TV movie featuring Dean Cain and Lucy Brown, in which explorers search for a shipwreck from the 1800s off the coast Antarctica. They discover and let loose a frozen alien heat-seeking monster that attacks a research station. Cain plays a distant relative of James Clark Ross, a real Antarctic explorer who appears in flashbacks as one of the fictional original expeditioners who encountered the alien. This is Cain’s second Antarctic movie (see BOA (2001)).
THE CHEF OF THE SOUTH POLE (2009) (Japan)
Directed by Shuichi Okita. An Antarctic science research team, based at Japan’s Dome Fuji Station, spends a year on The Ice. A light-hearted look at the interplay between the personnel, with food being a focus, based on an autobiography by the Station’s chef.
WATCHMEN (2009) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Zack Snyder. Based on characters from a comic book series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, this live-action movie was filmed for both regular and IMAX cinemas. Set in an alternative-history mid-1980s United States, retired vigilante superheroes reunite to fight a conspiracy against them. They discover that one of their group has deadly plans of his own to save the world from killing itself. The last part of the movie is set in this character’s headquarters beneath the icy Antarctic landscape, where the black plot plays out a chilly resolution.
WHITEOUT (2009) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Dominic Sena, featuring Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht and Tom Skerritt. The film was many years in the making, including a change of production companies with Reese Witherspoon originally reported as being the leading lady and producer in 2002. Based on the main character from the Whiteout comic book series by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber. Carrie Stetko, a U.S marshal at the South Pole Station, has to investigate a series of murders on the continent, which may be related to the crash of a Russian airplane 50 years earlier. Critics have said that the film left them cold and that the use of “whiteout” to the script would have helped the plot. The movie was filmed in Manitoba and Quebec, Canada.
JASPER: JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE WORLD (200
Directed by Eckart Fingberg and Kay Delvanthal. Jasper, a penguin, is the leading character of a German television series of animated shorts by Toons ’n’ Tales, from the early 2000s. It was made into a feature-length film for the European market in 2008 as Jasper und das Limonadenkomplott, but the English version, titled Journey to the End of the World, has not yet been distributed in North America. According to the soundtrack CD, “Between the backdrops of the icy South Pole and a colourful harbour city, unfolds the adventure of the penguin brothers Jasper and Junior, who, with the help of 9-year old Emma, rescue the eggs of the rare Kakapo bird from the evil hands of Dr. Block.” There is a dynamic orchestral score by Florian Tessloff.
Directed by Yair Hochner, featuring Tomer Ilan, Yiftach Mizrahi, Guy Zoaretz, Lucy Dubinchik and Liat Ekta. A comedy about urban gay characters in Tel Aviv, with no apparent relation to Antarctica, other than one of the characters wanting to go there.
ABSOLUTE ZERO (2006) (U.S.A.)
A television movie directed by Robert Lee, featuring Jeff Fahey and Erika Eleniak. A climatologist in Miami theorizes that a polar shift caused the last ice age over a day. He is sent to Antarctica to investigate and in a newly melted area, discovers ancient buried bodies and cave art. He manages to get out from a blizzard and believes the cave art proves that Antarctica’s freezing happened instantaneously. Back in Miami, the weather is getting colder and evacuation is ordered as a pole shift may be imminent. The scientist’s small group locks itself in a special lab as temperatures turn to absolute zero. After the sudden pole shift, they emerge to find that much of the world has new climates.
8 BELOW (2006) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Frank Marshall, featuring Paul Walker, Bruce Greenwood and Moon Bloodgood. This is an Americanized version of the film Antarctica, about the 1958 first Japanese Antarctic Expedition, which ended up stranding a pack of 17 sled dogs on the continent over a winter season and the efforts of the sled dog handler to return to pick them up.
HAPPY FEET (2006) (U.S.A.)
Directed by George Miller, with voices from a whole cast of famous actors such as Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. The animated film is about Mumbles, the Antarctic penguin who can’t sing but can tap dance up a storm. It became a box office success and won the Oscar for best animated feature film of 2006.
DRAWING RESTRAINT 9 (2005) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Matthew Barney, featuring Icelandic pop singer Björk, who also composed the soundtrack. This is a continuation of Barney’s art film series about self-restraint and creativity. The activities take place on the Japanese Antarctic whaling vessel Nisshin Maru, which also serves as a film protagonist, as does a melted vaseline sculpture. People turn into whales and the ship enters iceberg-filled Antarctic waters.
ANTARCTIC JOURNAL (2005) (South Korea)
Directed by Yim Pil-Sung. An Antarctic mystery and psychological thriller about six expeditioners crossing the continent. After they find a journal from another expedition that disappeared 80 years ago, turmoil and terror abound. The movie is in Korean with English subtitles.
9 SONGS (2005) (U.K.)
Directed by Michael Winterbottom, featuring Kieran O’Brien and Margo Stilley. The flashbacks of a young glaciologist in Antarctica about his steamy romance back in London, UK with an American exchange student, interspersed with live music performances that complement the film. Controversial and notorious for the X-rated content in a supposedly mainstream film.
THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (2004) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Roland Emmerich, featuring name actors Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Ian Holm, Emmy Rossum, and Sela Ward. The film opens as ice-core drillers on Antarctica’s Larsen Ice Shelf witness massive shelf breakup, due to global warming. Later, one of the Antarctic climatologists doesn’t get much international diplomatic support for his warming theories. As sudden climate changes throughout the world cause massive destruction, the film follows the climatologist and his group of New Yorkers as they attempt to save themselves from severe freezing on Manhattan Island. The film was very successful but received criticism for its scientific inaccuracies.
GODZILLA: FINAL WARS (2004) (Japan)
Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, this is a 50th anniversary episode of the Godzilla movie series. A rescue army of mutant earthlings releases Godzilla from his captivity within the ice at the South Pole to battle the world’s fiercest monsters, which have been unleashed throughout the world by an invading alien spacecraft.
AVP: ALIEN VS. PREDATOR (2004) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, featuring Lance Henriksen, Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova and Ewen Bremner. Aliens fight it out with humans in a buried pyramid that is discovered by modern industrialists at an abandoned whaling station, deep in the ice of Antarctica’s Bouvetøya Island. Novelization by Marc Cerasini.
RETROGADE (2004) (South Korea)
Directed by Christopher Kulikowski and featuring Dolph Lundgren. The action is based on a ship trapped in Antarctic sea ice. A team of genetically altered time travellers come back to the present to try to prevent a future biological disaster. Two opposing time travellers fight it out amongst the ship’s crew of polar scientists and researchers whose live are permanently altered.
ALIEN HUNTER (2003) (U.S.A./ Bulgaria)
Directed by Ron Krauss and featuring James Spader, Janine Eser, Leslie Stefanson, Carl Lewis and John Lynch. This is about Antarctic researchers, signals from outer space and a mysterious object that is found buried in the ice at a research base. If the object is opened and the creature inside awakes, it may lead to the annihilation of earth.
DEEP FREEZE (aka ICE CRAWLERS) (2003) (U.S.A.)
Directed by John Carl Buechler, featuring Allen Lee Haff, Goetz Otto, David Milbern, Alexandra Kamp and Karen Nieci. Scientists on an Antarctic ice shelf base with questionable activities are killed off one by one by a tentacled monster.
SHACKLETON (2002) (U.K.)
Directed by Charles Sturridge, featuring Kenneth Branagh, Phoebe Nicholls, Kevin McNally, Lorcan Cranich, Mark McGann and Matt Day. This was a 2-part TV dramatization about Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-16 Endurance Expedition. Based on a definitive biography of the same name by Roland Huntford. The production received many award nominations but was criticized for being too long on Shackleton’s early life and too short on the final Elephant Island rescue story.
BOA (aka NEW ALCATRAZ) (2001) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Phillip Roth, featuring Dean Cain, Elizabeth Lackey, Mark A. Sheppard, Grand L. Bush, Dean Biasucci and Craig Wasson. At a new international high security prison for dangerous criminals, dug far inside Antarctic ice, a deadly reptile awakens from within. All the inmates and the team sent in to investigate had better look out.
THE X FILES –THE MOVIE (199
Directed by Rob Bowman, featuring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, John Neville, Blythe Danner and Martin Landau. In a continuation of their popular TV series of the same name, which ran from 1993 to 2002, paranormal investigators Mulder and Scully find themselves at a secret lab underneath Antarctica, where an alien space ship has been dormant.
BLUE SUBMARINE NO. 6 (AONOROKUGO) (199
Originally the name of a Japanese manga print comic book series, Blue Submarine No. 6 became a four part video animation TV program in 1998 and was reported to be in planning for a live-action movie. Based in the near future when the oceans have flooded most of the earth’s coastlines, the series’ villain/ rogue scientist has a base of operations at the South Pole and is trying to induce a polar switch with the aid of the South Pole’s geothermal energy, in order to teach his brand of humanity to mankind. War later ensues on Antarctica, with the good guys on Blue Submarine No. 6, part of a peacekeeping force, leading the way to confront the enemy. Antarctica, meanwhile, has been transformed into the tropics. The series finally ends with the pole shift stopped and an uneasy truce for the sake of humanity.
SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK FOR MORE (199
Directed by Daniel Berk, featuring Faith Ford, based on characters created by Stephen King. Two military investigators go to an Antarctic base engaged in illegal drilling, that has mysteriously lost all its crew, except for two survivors. A world of devilish terror begins to emerge.
SUPER ATRAGON (1996) (Japan)
An anime film directed by Kazuyoshi Katayama and Mitsuo Fukui, based on the Japanese adventure novel series Kaitei Gunkan by Shunrō Ohshikawa and the 1963 live action movie. It tells the story of two American and Japanese submarines lost shortly after the 1945 Hiroshima atom bombing. Fifty years later, UN forces are sent to investigate a missing team at an Antarctic base. They find a large black object in the ice cap, aliens from inside the earth and the reincarnated Japanese submarine.
THE PEBBLE AND THE PENGUIN (1995) (U.S.)
A feature-length cartoon tale, directed by Don Bluth, with voices by Martin Short, James Belushi, Tim Curry and Annie Golden. A shy Adélie penguin must present his potential mate with the perfect pebble but is thrown into the icy ocean by an evil rival. He is captured and caged and with the help of a streetsmart fellow penguin, they escape and must travel back to Antarctica before the mating ceremony starts. Songs by Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman.
ANTÁRTIDA (1995) (Spain/U.S.A.)
Directed by Manuel Huerga, featuring Ariadna Gil, Carlos Fuentes, Francis Lorenzo and José Manuel Lorenzo. A film not so much about Antarctica as a place but rather, as a state of mind and about music and drug addition. The soundtrack consists of short, sparse, haunting, melodic themes, including the title theme Antarctica Starts Here, by John Cale.
THE FORBIDDEN QUEST (1993) (Netherlands)
Directed by Peter Delpeut, featuring Joseph O’Conor and Roy Ward. An old ship’s carpenter is interviewed in 1941 about his voyage as a member of an unknown Dutch Antarctic South Pole expedition in 1905. He is the last survivor and has rolls of the expedition film in canisters. His narration of the bizarre and frightening tale is interwoven with actual film sequences from vintage polar films shot by Herbert Ponting, Frank Hurley, Odd Dahl and others.
THE ADVENTURES OF SCAMPER THE PENGUIN (1992) (U.S.A.)
A feature-length animated film, directed by Jim Terry, about the adventures of Scamper, a penguin and his Antarctic friends and not-so-friendly penguins and seals. Venturing too far from home, Scamper is captured by poachers but manages to escape after many adventures. Originally created by the Japanese Takeo Nisiguti as a three-part series about Lolo the penguin, it was finally developed in 1986 as the first co-produced Japanese-Russian animated film. It has been dubbed into many languages.
THE LAST PLACE ON EARTH (1985) (U.K.)
Directed by Ferdinand Fairfax, featuring Martin Shaw, Susan Wooldridge, Sverre Anker Ousdal, Stephen Moore, Richard Morant, Sylvester McCoy, Pat Roach, Max Von Sydow and a young Hugh Grant. This was Britain’s Central TV’s 7-part historical drama series of the competing Roald Amundsen Norwegian and Robert Scott British South Pole Expeditions of 1910-12. Based on the book of the same name by Roland Huntford who had a strong anti-Scott bias.
ANTARCTICA (NANKYOKU MONOGATARI) (1983) (Japan)
Directed by Koreyoshi Kurahara. This is the story of the 1958 first Japanese Antarctic Expedition, which ended up stranding a pack of 17 sled dogs on the continent over a winter season, and the story of two scientists and their attempts to return for a rescue next season. Vangelis’ powerful instrumental title theme of the same name may well be far better known than the film itself.
THE THING (1982) (U.S.A.)
Directed by John Carpenter, featuring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T. K. Carter and Richard Dysart. Researchers at an American Antarctic base find remains of an alien buried at another Norwegian base, whose inhabitants have died. A stray dog from the Norwegian base infects the Americans and one by one they begin to transform into the horrific Thing. Music by the well-known film composer Ennio Morricone. This movie is now considered the classic Antarctic horror film. Novel by Alan Dean Foster, which was based on the 1938 short story, Who Goes There?, by John W. Campbell. The film was predated by the original The Thing (From Another World), a 1951 movie by Howard Hawks, in which the polar base was an Arctic one, rather than Antarctic. Hawks’ film was also based John W. Campbell’s short story.
THE INTRUDER WITHIN (1981) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Peter Carter, featuring Chad Everett, Joseph Bottoms and Jennifer Warren. Team members on a drilling station offshore from Antarctica begin to die after they inadvertently bring up a prehistoric egg that hatches and turns into a monster. The remaining three survivors must stop it. Not Antarctic other than the location, which could have been anywhere.
VIRUS (1980) (Japan)
Directed by Kinji Fukasaku, but featuring many American and international stars – Glenn Ford, George Kennedy, Edward James Olmos, Robert Vaughn, Chuck Connors, Bo Svenson and Olivia Hussey. A plane crash releases a deadly virus that destroys mankind, with the exception of a group of scientists in Antarctica. They must find a cure and save themselves from infection, as well as from a nuclear catastrophe.
THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1977) (U.K.)
Directed by Kevin Connor, featuring Doug McClure, Patrick Wayne, and Sarah Douglas. A sequel to The Land That Time Forgot. An expedition sets out in 1919 to the south polar seas to rescue colleagues who were previously lost in an expedition. They find a tropical oasis in the middle of the ice. Based on the second story of the 1918 Caspak trilogy by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
DOCTOR WHO - The Seeds of Doom (1976) (U.K.)
Directed by Douglas Comfield, featuring Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen. The campy Doctor Who was a long running U.K. sci-fi horror television series, originating in 1963. The six-part The Seeds of Doom was the last program in the 13th season and was broadcast over January - March, 1976. In it, a pair of plant pods is discovered under the Antarctic ice and when they burst, they infect the nearest human beings at a scientific base and slowly transform them into grotesque animal plants. The Doctor and his assistant arrive in Antarctica and one of the pods is destroyed in an explosion and the other is taken to England by two rogue agents. The program shows a fairly realistic generic Antarctic base setting, complete with what looks like cheesy Styrofoam snow pellets, in an early scene where the plant pods are first discovered in the ice.
THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1975) (U.K.)
Directed by Kevin Connor, featuring Doug McClure, John McEnery and Susan Penhaligon. A German U-boat sinks a British vessel during WWI, picks up the survivors and ends up in the south polar seas at the island of Caprona, populated by terrifying dinosaurs and apemen. Based on the first story of the 1918 Caspak trilogy by Edgar Rice Burroughs. This movie title was resurrected in a 2009 U.S.A.-made version, directed by C. Thomas Howell, who also had a leading acting role along with Timothy Bottoms. In this film, the original plot is rearranged with the island of Caprona being in the Bermuda Triangle. Two modern newlywed couples end up at the island, which is inhabited by dinosaurs and the crew of a stranded German U-boat.
CRY OF THE PENGUINS (aka MR. FORBUSH AND THE PENGUINS) (1971) (U.K.)
Directed by Alfred Viola, featuring John Hurt and Hayley Mills. Based on the 1965 novel by Graham Billing. A young ladies man and London-based biologist, goes to Antarctica to study penguins and to impress a fellow female biologist. He starts to identify with the penguins, to think less about himself and goes into a life-changing mode.
DOCTOR WHO – The Tenth Planet (1966) (U.K.)
Directed by Derek Martinus, featuring William Hartnell, Anneke Wills and Michael Craze. The campy Doctor Who was a long running U. K. sci-fi horror television series, originating in 1963. The Tenth Planet was the second program in the 4th series and was broadcast in October 1966. In this episode, Dr. Who and his small crew take shelter at a South Pole space mission tracking base in 1986, to warn the scientists that the space capsule they have been following is being affected by the gravity of a tenth planet. The Cybermen, inhabitants of Earth’s lost twin planet, are at the same time landing in Antarctica to claim earth’s power and resources.
THE NAVY VS. THE NIGHT MONSTERS (1966) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Michael Hoey, featuring Mamie Van Doren, Anthony Eisley. A U.S. Navy airplane from Operation Deepfreeze, during the 1957-58 International Geophysical Year, brings back some tree and plant specimens from Antarctica to a south seas island navy base for a stopover. The trees soon become killer monsters. Based on the 1959 book The Monster From Earth’s End by Murray Leinster.
QUICK, BEFORE IT MELTS (1965) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Delbert Mann, featuring George Maharis, Robert Morse, Norman Fell and Michael Constantine. A comedy based on the 1964 novel of the same name by Philip Benjamin, following his visit to Antarctica as a NY Times reporter during the International Geophysical Year. Lonely Antarctic researchers, women on The Ice, a reporter, a photographer and a defecting Russian scientist are the ingredients for romance and intrigue.
THE LAND UNKNOWN (1957) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Virgil Vogel, featuring Jock Mahoney, Shawn Smith and William Reynolds. A naval expedition’s helicopter, exploring the Antarctic coast, goes down in fog and emerges in a tropical valley. The crew, including a female journalist find dinosaurs and carnivorous plants, not to mention a deranged sole survivor of a previous expedition.
HELL BELOW ZERO (1953) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Mark Robson, featuring Alan Ladd, Stanley Baker and Joan Tetzl. A former American naval officer joins and Antarctic vessel and meets a woman traveling to the Antarctic whaling fleet to investigate the death of her father. The action and romance move to a whaling vessel, which is rammed and the protagonists fight it out with axes on an ice floe. Based on the 1949 novel The White South by Hammond Innes.
8 BALL BUNNY (1950) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Charles M. Jones. This is a 7-minute animated cartoon short from Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies series. A featured penguin performer in the Ice Follies in Brooklyn is left behind when the show moves and he happens to fall into Bugs Bunny’s rabbit hole. Bugs offers to help him find his home at the South Pole. With twists, they work their way down through the Panama Canal and through South America, with the help of a Humphrey Bogart character to escape cannibals, to the Pole, only to discover that the penguin’s real home is Hoboken, N.J. Bugs runs away in exasperation, leaving the penguin to the Bogart character to return him to his to home.
FRIGID HARE (1949) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Charles M. Jones, this 7½-minute animated cartoon short from Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies has Bugs Bunny on an inadvertent vacation in Antarctica, having lost his way to Miami Beach. He meets a curious penguin, which is captured by an Inuit hunter. Bugs decides to rescue the penguin and after some harrowing escapades the penguin is saved and becomes his friend. Bugs decides he can stretch his remaining vacation days to years when the penguin tells him the days are six months long. Certain culturally derogative comments about the Inuit hunter were later edited out in more recent TV airings.
SCOTT OF THE ANTARCTIC (194
Directed by Charles Frend, featuring John Mills, Harold Warrender, Derek Bond, Reginald Beckwith and James Robertson Justice. A classic dramatization of Robert Scott’s fateful 1910-12 South Pole Expedition, with an emphasis on the heroic aspects of the struggle. The background music, by Ralph Vaughan Williams, one of Britain’s greatest 20th century composers, was later arranged into his Seventh Symphony, which premiered in 1953 and is still considered to be the mother of all recorded Antarctic music.
THE THREE CABALLEROS (1945) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Norman Ferguson, this is an animated musical feature film from Walt Disney Productions, which includes numerous individual shorts about travels through South America, all presented as being part of film and book presents for Donald Duck’s birthday. One of the segments is the 7½-minute The Cold-Blooded Penguin, directed by Bill Roberts, about Pablo, a South Pole penguin who grows tired of the cold and travels to a warmer climate in a boat carved from ice. On his way north along the coast of South America past the Equator, the boat finally melts and the penguin has to make do with a life of ease on a warm island off the coast, with nostalgic thoughts of a colder climate. The film was nominated for two Oscars and has been released in various video versions.
LA FEMME DU BOUT DU MONDE (THE WOMAN FROM THE END OF THE WORLD) (193
Directed by Jean Epstein, featuring Jean Appert, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Paul Azaїs, Philippe Richard, Germaine Rouer, Charles Vanel. A ship searching for uranium on a lost Antarctic island is bewitched by a mysterious woman living on the island with her child and insane husband. 20 minutes of the film have been lost and only a 64-minute version remains. Based on the 1930 novel by Alain Serdac (real name Denise Fontaine).
SOUTH POLE OR BUST (1934) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Frank Moser and Paul Terry. A 4-minute Terrytoon silent cartoon about a mouse and a dog that fly the South Pole, disturb a sleeping walrus on the way and are greeted by resident Rotarian penguins. The enraged walrus tries to extract revenge but the two visitors are rescued by their airplane.
DIRIGIBLE (1931) (U.S.A.)
Directed by the iconic Frank Capra, featuring Jack Holt, Ralph Graves, Fay Wray and Hobart Bosworth. This is a film about competitive Navy fliers and adventurers trying to attain the South Pole. When the expedition airplane of one of the pilots crashes at the South Pole, his friend and rival in romance has to undertake a dramatic rescue in a dirigible. The filming was noteworthy for Hobart Bosworth losing many teeth and part of his jaw by putting dry ice directly in his mouth in order to recreate the effect of steamy breath in the frigid temperatures. Fay Wray went on to fame as the star of the film King Kong in 1933.
THE LOST ZEPPELIN (1929) (U.S.A.)
Directed by Edward Sloman, featuring Conway Tearle, Ricardo Cortez and Virginia Valli. Two expeditioners make their way to the South Pole with a dirigible, which gets downed by bad weather. The public at home follows the news via radio, including the commander’s wife who is involved in a secret love triangle with the first mate. The news is of a single survivor – which one? The film is notable for awkward moments with its soundtrack since talkies only first became commercialized in late 1927 (with the Jazz singer) and did not become the norm until the early 1930s. The soundtrack was by Meredith Willson, who was twice nominated for Academy Awards for music and was best known for his Broadway musicals The Music Man. and the follow up The Unsinkable Molly Brown.
THE SOUTH POLE FLIGHT (192
Directed by Hugh Harman and Ben Clopton. In this black and white cartoon short, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit heads to the South Pole in a flying bathtub, is attacked by a bird but makes it, where his destination is marked by street signs. The cartoon is believed to be lost. Although the Oswald series was originally drawn by Walt Disney in 1927, under contract to Universal Studios, he did not own the rights. By the time this cartoon was made by Universal Studios through Winkler Pictures, Disney had begun his own studios and was starting to make history with his Mickey Mouse animations. The Oswald cartoons were made until 1943 and Oswald’s last appearance was a 1951 cameo in a Woody Woodpecker cartoon.