Polar explorers' rare films of expeditions restored

They were the last of the great explorers and the fiercest of rivals.

This week, Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen - who captivated the world with their race to the South Pole 100 years ago - will be reunited when complete footage of Amundsen's expedition is shown for the first time since 1912 alongside a film of Captain Scott's journey to the pole.

The race ended in tragedy for Englishman Scott, who perished, along with his four colleagues, on his way back from the pole, which he reached 35 days after Amundsen.

His diaries gave a graphic account of the hardship they endured and the famous last words of comrade Lawrence Oates, who stepped outside his tent with the words "I may be some time".

Yet, despite the Norwegian Amundsen's victory, it was Scott who became internationally famous.

This was partly due to his tragic heroism but also to the professional film he had made of the expedition, selling the rights to French film production company Gaumont.

A restored version of The Great White Silence will also be shown to British audiences this week.

Amundsen took just a few minutes of amateur footage. This was last shown in Britain during his lecture tour in 1912 - he reached the pole in December 1911 - and is regarded as such a rare and important artefact the UN placed it on its Memory of the World Register.

Jan-Anders Diesen, professor of film at Norway's Lillehammer University, says the film has now been pieced back together and restored.

It will be shown for the first time at the British Film Institute's Silent Film Festival in Leicester, which begins on Friday.

Exploration is the theme of the festival, which also features several newly discovered films.

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