Filming and Formatting the Explorer Hero: Captain Scott and Ealing Studios’ Scott of the Antarctic (1948)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

64 Downloads (Pure)


The film Scott of the Antarctic (1948) offered a more ambivalent reading of Robert Scott and the Terra Nova expedition. Some of that critical work is done through the narrative arc and staged encounters, but there is also another element to the film which is sound. The musical score by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams reminds us that sound can and does shape the mood and tempo of film, offering insights into places, times, emotional states and relationships. Ealing Studios considered Vaughan Williams to be inherently appropriate given public reputation as a composer and contributor to the BBC including the Proms. The prevailing geopolitical context of Antarctica in the late 1940s also acts as a counterpoint to a film that ostensibly looks backwards to a Heroic Era of exploration that was largely surpassed by a new era of permanent occupation and large-scale and multi-national exploration. The film’s release coincided with new plans led by the United States for the future control of Antarctica. The timing of the film was opportune. While there was no location filming in Antarctica, the film utilizes film footage from the Antarctic Peninsula in a deliberate attempt to promote British Antarctic interests at a time of rising geopolitical tension.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiography and History in Film
EditorsThomas Freeman, David Smith
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)3319894072
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2019

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in the History of Media

Cite this