1903: A Dash to the North Pole

A Dash to the North Pole (extract)
K: Anthony Fiala. P: Kineto. UK 1909
Engl. and German intertitles
Print: BFI

“The polar regions have always exerted a powerful draw for filmmakers. This is partly to do with the natural allure of the unknown, but it also reflects how well the snowy wastes render on film. They are all spectacularly beautiful. The earliest polar film in the BFI National Archive is a British 1909 release of footage from the 1903 American Ziegler expedition to the North Pole.”
Bryony Dixon
BFI Screenonline

Industrialist William Ziegler sponsored a new polar expedition under Anthony Fiala in 1902. His hope to be associated with the discovery of the pole failed, but he died before their return with the news. (…)
The thirty-nine explorers set out in the Steam Yacht ‘America’ on June 26, 1903, intending to expand the work done in 1901. They dropped anchor in Teplitz Bay and reoccupied the original Camp Ziegler.  An advance camp six miles north was named Camp Abruzzi. While the party was settling down for the winter the ice suddenly rose up to crush the ship and sink it without a trace. This might have proved to be a major tragedy, but they decided to rely on the supply ship to rescue them in the spring, and they carried on all their routine work which included putting the North Pole party in the field. It would appear that all of nature’s forces were mustered to defeat this futile attempt by man to peer into the polar region because the plans for a field party in 1904 were delayed by the weather and then the supply ship failed to appear during the year. (…)
In the spring of 1905 Fiala and a small sledge party started for the North Pole, but the ice conditions which prevented a ship from reaching them a year before now became so soft that the party was forced to abandon the trip. They returned to camp in time to greet the arrival of a worried rescue expedition on the ‘S.Y. Terra Nova’. This ship was called out after the ‘Frithjof’ was forced to retire because of ice damage.
They returned to the United States in 1905 to learn that William Ziegler was dead. He had passed on the year before, without receiving any news of his expedition, perhaps hopefully dreaming that his name had been linked with the discovery of the North Pole.”
Ziegler Polar Expedition 1903-05