May 24th, 1928. The dirigible Italia, with General Umberto Nobile (Finch) as captain, is flying over the North Pole. Landing is not advisable, due to bad weather conditions. On the return flight the aircraft, made heavier by the ice that has stuck to it and with a faulty engine, crashes on the ground and sends ten crew members flying onto the pack. Then it lifts again, dragging part of the crew to their death. The survivors, who include Nobile himself, find shelter under a tent retrieved from the crash site. A Russian amateur radio operator picks up a dramatic request for help. The ice-breaker Krassin is ordered to the crash site. In the meantime, two Italians and Swedish scientist Malmgrem set out on foot to reach the take-off site, Kigsbay. A Swedish pilot manages to find the survivors, but can only take back one of them in his plane: commander Nobile. On the journey to Kigsbay Malmgrem dies. Explorer Amundsen (Connery), who has accepted to join the rescue team, disappears from view under the ice. Only forty-eight day after the crash are the survivors of the red tent finally rescued by the Krassin. The director uses flashbacks to make the ghosts of the crew members appear alongside their living companions for a posthumous event, in which Nobile has to stand trial. As T. Kezich wrote when commenting upon the lyricism and epic scope of some scenes, “the very best of this film lies in its being half way between Jules Verne and Dovzenko”.
Window on Science will screen the film to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Commander Nobile’s mission.