Pole to Pole - delta_november
Sep. 2nd, 2007
10:03 am - Pole to Pole
Last night we finished watching the 8 episode BBC series Pole to Pole. It recounts the adventures of Michael Palin and a film crew of six as they attempt to travel from the North to the South Pole, overland, via the meridian at 30 degrees east. Besides being a good boys-own adventure, it's notable for a few reasons:
- Filmed over six months in 1991, it happens upon some very significant world events. The Soviet generals' coup is two days away when the leave. South Africa is only four months out of apartheid. Ethiopia has just gotten over civil war, but there is violence in The Sudan. Some things are so very different 16 years later, and some have hardly changed.
- It is composed of very long shots with few cuts. Having only a couple cameras certainly contributes to this, but the result is refreshingly non-frenetic. Scenes go on for far longer that they would now, and are allowed to run their natural course even if they don't end in any particular conclusion or punch-line. Some are even hard to watch, as the awkward silences stretch out. This is good.
- It is a family program, with no profanity, violence, or otherwise bad behaviour. Full frontal nudity is shown in appropriate circumstances as Palin explores the bathing customs around the globe. Contrast this with modern broadcasting mores that would never consider such exposure but think nothing of violence and degradation.
- It has some wonderful shots of Land Cruisers in action. Very few Rovers, sadly. It's popular to beat up on 4x4 vehicles these days, and to a certain degree that's justified. This shows the Cruisers in their natural environment, as an absolute necessity for getting from A to B in Africa.