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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Shave the Polar Bears

The Red Tent (1969) on IMDb

Plot Overview

The golden age of Arctic exploration saw Norwegian Norwegian flag explorer Roald Amundsen (1872–1928) with Swedish scientist Finn Malmgren reach the South Pole in 1911, followed by American adventurer Robert Pearey's mad dash by dog sled to the North Pole. In 1928 Italy in an attempt to secure its reputation on the world stage, mounts an expedition led by General Umberto Nobile (Peter Finch) to land the semi-rigid airship Italia on the North Pole by flying it from the northern mining town of Kingsbay on the Arctic Spitsbergen Islands.

snowball fightIn this Hollywood version Malmgren (Eduard Martsevich) and local mining nurse Valeria (Claudia Cardinale) meet in the dispensary, frolic in the snow and fall in love. When her love fails to return, and the town turns into a festival of curious onlookers, all hope seems to be lost … until a Russian radio amateur picks up a signal (“SOS Italia on ice vicinity of …”) making news around the world and for the survivors rekindling hope when they get a return message (“Russian icebreaker Krassin left ….”)

The summer thaw, drifting ice, and poor planning put rescue in doubt and one leader in turmoil as he tries to second guess himself after the fact.


The Italian government had sent with the airship the aging steamer Città di Milano (City of Milan) as a support vessel under the command of Giuseppe Romagna Manoja (Massimo Girotti.) He became the risk-averse rescue coordinator having, “in all my life never disobeyed an order.” As for Amundsen (Sean Connery), he felt that too much courage and too little courage were both dangerous on the Arctic ice. Solomon advises, (Eccl. 8:5) “Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment.”

The narrator pegs the motivation for adventure as, “The explorers' age-old reason or vanity: the desire to be first.” Valeria thinks it “silly.” Daring search & rescue pilot Einar Lundborg (Hardy Krüger) is a mercenary: “Men are risking their necks for fame, a medal, promotion, or money. What's wrong with money, mm? Just a means to happiness.” Amundsen observes: “But you don't look like a happy man, exactly. More like a man who's learned to be indifferent to unhappiness.” Solomon wrote, (Eccl. 8:6-7) “Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, there­fore the misery of man is great upon him. For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?”

Malmgren tried to guide a party of three survivors out on foot—not recommended—and found the conditions likely to be the death of him, and the sorrow of his loyal girl­friend. He'd have spared her some grief had he simply given her “a fort­night of pleasure” before leaving rather than some hope of a future with him. (Eccl. 8:8) “There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.” He was a Swedish humanist with his feet on the ground, not an Italian Catholic seeking eternal rest, but it was all the same to the ice.

Leadership was put in an untenable position inviting blame no matter what they did and self-recrimination no matter the out­come. (Eccl. 8:9) “All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.”

Production Values

” (1969) was directed by Mikhail K. Kalatozov. The screen­play was written by Ennio De Concini and Richard Adams. It stars Sean Connery, Peter Finch, and Claudia Cardinale. We see some very good acting by Finch as Italian General Umberto Nobile. Sean Connery as Amundsen, and Cardinale as Malmgren's girl­friend also pulled their weight. This movie displayed a good extent of character actors, each given enough screen time to develop his character.

It is rated G for general audiences. It had two primary versions. In Russia was distributed a Sovscope 70, 70 mm road­show version at 2½+ hours. The non-Russian speakers were dubbed into Russian. The “International Version” was pared down to 121 minutes, in a 2.20:1 Sovscope 70 format cut to 1.66:1 spherical wide­screen. Here the original score was replaced by one by Italian composer Ennio Morricone. This one used the lead actors' original English language voice tracks.

It was filmed in Italy and the Soviet Union employing Russian, Italian, and English languages. Sound Mix: 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints); Mono (35 mm prints.) Color: Techni­color with B&W archival and some ersatz archival footage. Photo­graphic­ally it's a master­piece. Ennio Morricone's musical score was moving. The film used tangible special effects, not CGI. The script is like a Russian novel; it weaves in and out a complex tale.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This film was engrossing and only nail-biting in places—ship crash, ice cracking, polar bear confrontation. Interesting but largely forgotten subject matter that would appeal to aficio­nados of far north adventure stories. It's not a quick fix quest, more food for thought.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability for children: Suitable for all ages. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.