place at the bottom of the
world, too cold for me.
Even watching a film or reading a book about Antartica makes me fffffreeeeze. Years ago, I read a book called The Worst Journey in the World – what a name and what a voyage. It`s an account of Robert F Scott`s expedition back in the early 20th century, written years afterwards by one of his expedition team (Apsley Cherry-Garrard). Though it is sometimes very `Ho Britannia!` it is a jolly good read I must say (jolly good was used a lot in this book as far as I can remember, if not it`s a very British expression at least). The funny thing is I found it while travelling in South East Asia which is a really warm part of the world. I picked up this book in a cafe which had a bookshelf of second hand books. However, I was on the way to NZ at the time which gave me more reason to buy it. It`s like I was mentally preparing to go from a hot part of the world to a much colder part (by the way I tried glacier hiking while in NZ and I felt like an explorer for all of 2 seconds until the fear of falling down one of the many crevices
crept up, no jumped up, on me. Interesting experience but you only want to do it once if you`re any way like me). I`d be no good in the Antartic that`s for sure.
Anyway, why am I talking about Antartica in a blog about Japan you might ask? Well, I watched a film last night called Antartica, a Japanese film from 1983 (or 1985), telling the true story of a particular expedition to Antartica in 1956/57 by a Japanese Expedition team (as part of International Geophysical Year). The original name for the film in Japanese is Nankyoku Monogatari (南極物語) and it`s the second most successful film of all time in Japan after ET. The fact that it`s a true story makes it more fascinating. Anyway back to the film and the expedition team concerned. The sudden curtailing of their time down there meant they were forced to leave their huskies behind and this film is about how these huskies did or did not survive. It was part film and part documentary if that makes any sense. Amazing story and really sad too. I felt really distressed for the huskies when they were left behind but felt slightly lifted at their efforts to survive (once they broke free of the chains they were tied to at the camp – which the two main explorers felt really guilty about). It`s also a nice film because it shows how the guys on the expedition, who had grown really fond of the dogs (and two of the dogs in particular who were brothers), felt about leaving them behind and how they eventually went back to see if they could find them (I won`t say whether they did or not – just watch it, it`s on youtube). It`s really sweet but not in a saccharine way. These scientists were portrayed as really good, sincere people who really cared about these huskies who pulled them around the Antartic region and were gutted to leave them behind. One of them, in the film anyway, even travels around to various parts of Hokkaido to apologise to the families who raised the huskies (if that happened in real life, well bravo to him). The other joins him at some point and they discuss what happened. The actors who played them were really good. These scientists, well a lot of them, were from Hokkaido University and Hokkaido (and islands off Hokkaido) is the place where most of the huskies were raised and trained for their work on the expedition.
At one stage in the film, we see the Aurora Australis filling the sky (the Antartic has no sunlight for a certain period every year – from may to I don`t know a few months anyway). This phenomenon is beautiful but pretty scary to the poor huskies (who were probably cursing the long since departed explorers even more at that point).
Great film worth a watch