A riveting, unusual adventure movie, THE FORBIDDEN QUEST uses archival documentary footage to illustrate a tale told by the last survivor of an fictitious expedition to the South Pole, which emerges as a near-magical landscape of unimaginable extremes.
In 1905, the sailing ship "Hollandia" set sail from Bergen in Norway for a secret destination: the South Pole, a white and inhospitable void at the end of the world. In 1941, an interviewer (Roy Ward) tracks down and films the expedition's sole survivor, ship's carpenter J.C. Sullivan (Joseph
O'Conor), in a tiny Irish cottage. Sullivan recounts an improbable story of obsession, murder, cannibalism, and mystical redemption. The interviewer is skeptical, but Sullivan has the film material to prove his story--the extraordinary "living pictures" taken on the expedition.
For most of this black-and-white movie J.C. Sullivan sits immobile in his chair, rarely raising his voice; the color and movement is supplied by his stories, which are inspired by the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne, and T.S. Eliot. His vivid account captures the allure of the
audaciously beautiful polar landscape--the spellbinding light, the vast white expanses, and the floating islands of ice--as well as the bitter cold, the insufferable silences, the chronic hunger, and the ruthless decisions made in the interests of survival.
The footage of the South Pole used in THE FORBIDDEN QUEST is indeed authentic. Camera-operators such as Frank Hurley and Herbert Ponting shot in almost impossible conditions during several daring expeditions from the turn of the century until the 1930s, including those led by Robert F. Scott,
Ernest Shackleton, and Roald Amundsen. Writer-director Peter Delpeut scoured the Netherlands Film Museum for these stunning archival films, which he weaves expertly into his adventure narrative. THE FORBIDDEN QUEST is of obvious interest to lovers of adventure and film history, but it deserves to
be seen more widely, particularly for the eloquence of its cautionary fable about humankind's ambivalent relationship with nature. (Violence.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: A riveting, unusual adventure movie, THE FORBIDDEN QUEST uses archival documentary footage to illustrate a tale told by the last survivor of an fictitious expedition to the South Pole, which emerges as a near-magical landscape of unimaginable extremes.… (more)