Amundsen, conquering the South Pole

Roald Amundsens ekspedisjon til sydpolen 1910-1912
(Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole 1910-1912)
Documentary footage
K: Kristian Prestrud. P: Norsk Kinematograf Aktieselskab. No 1912
Print: Nasjonalbiblioteket Oslo / National Library of Norway

Documentary heritage submitted by Norway and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2005
Roald Amundsen and his 4-man team reached the South Pole, with the help of polar dogs, on 14 December 1911. The expedition, and particularly the dog-sled journey to the Pole, is described as daring and with an exceptionally good logistic planning and execution. (…)
The film collection is unique, as it documents the important events of this first expedition to reach the South Pole. Though the material is incomplete, it is made up of original sequences, filmed between 1910 and 1912, consisting of negative film and first and second-generation print material.”
Memory of the World

“Since the 1980s a short English version has been available but maybe not very well-known. Now the original material has been restored and reconstructed properly. – Also Shackleton shot South Pole footage before and after Amundsen. Scott filmed South Pole footage simultaneously with Amundsen. Penguins were a favourite motif with all.”
Antti Alanen: Film Diary

“Roald Amundsen was not the first Norwegian to film a polar expedition. In 1898, Carsten Borchgrevink, as leader of an English expedition, brought a film camera to Antarctica, only two or three years after the Lumière brothers had shown their first films in Paris. It was Borchgrevink’s affluent sponsor, the publisher George Newnes, who believed in film as a news medium and sent a camera from England. The scenes from the departure are found in the British Film Institute, but no more film recordings were made. Borchgrevink and his photographer, the scientist Louis Bernacchi, were the first to discover that the film camera was not fit for use in cold regions.(…) After 1898, both the mechanics and the film stock were improved. The American expedition leader Anthony Fiala, who was hired as a photographer on the first Ziegler expedition and who led the second Ziegler expedition headed for the North Pole in 1901–5, wrapped the camera up in warm blankets before filming.

When Amundsen set out on his South Pole expedition, most of the technical problems related to filming in extremely cold temperatures had been solved. From this expedition, Amundsen and his team secured moving images of life onboard the polar vessel Fram, of activities around the base Framheim, of the departure with a dog team headed for the pole and animal life in Antarctica, with penguins as a central motif. (…)  Hugo Hermansen edited a version that could be shown independently in cinemas. Hermansen was the director of the cinema company Aktieselskapet Kino and a well-known figure in the capital, and owned cinemas throughout the country. At that time is was common for cinema owners to procure the films for their theaters, and he had personally equipped Amundsen with both rolls of film and a camera. He also edited the final version of the film.”
Jan Anders Diesen: A Century of Polar Expedition Films: From Roald Amundsen to Børge Ousland. In: Eirik Frisvold Hanssen and Maria Fosheim Lund (ed.): Small Country, Long Journeys. Norwegian Expedition Films. Nasjonalbiblioteket Oslo 2017, p. 94-95

Further Reading: The South Pole Expedition, Fram, 1910-12

The short (14 min.) “German Version” of the same footage:

Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole 1910-1912
K: Kristian Prestrud. P: Norsk Kinematograf Aktieselskab. No 1912
Print: Nasjonalbiblioteket Oslo / National Library of Norway
German intertitles


>>> Méliès am Nordpol