A Tale of Stiff Upper Lip
Having become famous for being an explorer, Robert Falcon Scott (John Mills) sets his mind on reaching the South Pole. As he sets about recruiting his team and raising funds to pay for all the equipment he meets various issues along the way such as those who dislike his decision to use modern technology alongside the traditional dogs and pack horses. But after some time of fund raising the expedition sets off by boat where upon they learn that their rival has stolen a lead on them. But it would be an ill fated expedition as whilst Scott and his team would reach the South Pole they were not only beaten by the Norwegians but they were unable to make the return trip.
This is going to sound harsh but there is a scene in "Scott of the Antarctic" where Scott is doing the rounds, giving presentations to try and raise funds for his expedition but his stiff presentations put people to sleep, it is a scene which sort of represents the movie. Basically "Scott of the Antarctic" is one of those respectful but frightfully stiff upper lip type of movies from the past which whilst once the done thing now is an acquired taste. It means that when experienced now for the first time "Scott of the Antarctic" doesn't quite capture the attention like it probably did back in 1948 when this tale of bravery against the odds might have captured the hearts.
The thing is that "Scott of the Antarctic" is a nicely put together picture, yes there are times when the backdrop artwork clearly looks false but for the most Charles Frend creates a solid looking picture rich in tone and visual depth. He also does a good job of incorporating plenty of information, from a scene which informs the audience of the hazardous and long journey which Scott and his team were undertaking to footage of the wildlife as well as the dogs they were taking. But as I said this is a movie from the era of the British stiff upper lip and as such whilst the story flows it doesn't always have life.
It is the same when it comes to the acting as whilst "Scott of the Antarctic" features a stellar cast with the likes of John Mills, Kenneth Moore and James Robertson Justice in one of his earlier roles it is all incredibly typical of the era with I hate to say it, that respectful stiffness which actually robs the characters of their character. I suppose what I am saying is that the acting is as expected but over 60 years after this movie was made the stiffness of it all is now so apparent that it actually begins to affect the movie.
What this all boils down to is that whilst both interesting and expected "Scott of the Antarctic" is a movie of its era and as such does not work so well for new generations who discover it now and are presented by a lot of respectful stiffness which rob it of life, depth and character.