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Posts Tagged ‘Phoebe Nicholls’

I’ve been overloading on polar dramas lately by watching both The Last Place on Earth (1985), about Scott and Amundsen’s race for the South Pole, and this more recent Channel 4 mini-series, starring Kenneth Branagh in the title role, which was repeated recently on a UK satellite TV station. In the wake of Amundsen and Scott’s triumphant and tragic journeys to the Pole, Shackleton came up with a different but equally daring type of challenge – a trans-Antarctic expedition. His group ran into deadly danger when their ship became trapped in the ice and was crushed, but the mini-series traces how they overcame all the odds to make their way back to civilisation, without losing a single member of the expedition team.  

From the opening scenes onwards, I realised that Shackleton was a top-quality production  – I hadn’t spotted the name of the director and writer, but it was no surprise to discover that it was Charles Sturridge, director of the classic ITV adaptation of  Brideshead Revisited. The first episode of Shackleton, set in the period just before the First World War, has the same atmosphere of aching nostalgia as Brideshead, similarly showing the last vestiges of a privileged world about to be torn apart. The blend of landscapes, costumes and music here also has the same kind of  seductive power as the country house scenes in the earlier series. For Shackleton, the music is by Adrian Johnston, composer of many of my favourite TV and movie soundtracks, and the cinematographer is Henry Braham, who also filmed yet another period drama I’ve watched recently, The Land Girls (1998), also full of beautiful landscapes.

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