|The Red Tent|
Soviet billboard theatrical poster of the film
|Directed by||Mikhail Kalatozov|
|Produced by||Franco Cristaldi|
|Written by||Yuri Nagibin|
Richard L. Adams
Ennio De Concini
Robert Bolt (uncredited)
|Music by||Ennio Morricone (international version)|
|Edited by||John Shirley|
Empresa Hispanoamericana de Video
Paramount Home Video
23 December 1969 (Italy)
29 July 1971 (USA)
|158 min (Russian version)|
121 min (International version)
|Country||USSR / Italy|
|Language||Russian / Italian / English|
The film is based on the story of the 1928 mission to rescue Umberto Nobile and the other survivors of the crash of the airship Italia. It features Sean Connery as Roald Amundsen and Peter Finch as Nobile. The script was adapted by Yuri Nagibin and Mikhail Kalatozov from Nagibin's novel of the same title. Nagibin couldn't complete the script due to a series of conflicts with the producer, who insisted on expanding the role of Claudia Cardinale, and it was completed by de Concini and Bolt.
The film begins in Rome many years after the expedition. Nobile has endured years of scorn for his actions during the disaster and its aftermath. He imagines his apartment turned into a court of inquiry against him, where witnesses and judges are his former crewmen - including Captain Zappi, his navigator and his meteorologist Finn Malmgren. Also arrayed against him are Valeria, Malmgren's lover, Captain Romagna, one of the expedition's would-be rescuers, famed aviator Lundborg, professor Samoilovich, chief of the Soviet rescue mission, his pilot Boris Chukhnovsky, and Roald Amundsen who lost his life in the search for survivors of Nobile's expedition.
As they try Nobile, the events of the expedition and its failure are depicted. The expedition is successful at first, but ends in disaster. The Italia is weighed down when ice forms on it. Colliding with the ground, the airship's gondola is torn away from its keel and the envelope containing the airship's hydrogen cells; freed of the weight of the gondola, the rest of the ship floats away and out of control, taking some of Nobile's crew with it.
Nobile maintains control of the surviving crew who are now marooned on arctic pack ice. Rescue efforts are made by both Italy and the Soviet Union. Nobile's group is first found by Lundborg, a Swedish pilot who lands on the ice. The aviator insists he can only take Nobile. Reluctantly, Nobile agrees, sure he can best assist the rescue once he returns from the ice. These efforts are blocked: reaching the Italian ship Città di Milano he finds that his superiors have stripped him of command for apparently abandoning his crew, and he is ordered confined to his room and have no role in the rescue. Desperate, Nobile contacts the Krassin, a Soviet icebreaker also searching for the survivors. Nobile implores Samoilovich, the Krassin's captain for help in rescuing the survivors. Unfortunately, the Krassin has sustained damage. Also, because the ice pack has drifted, Nobile cannot give the Krassin an accurate position for the survivors. Some of Nobile's crew - Zappi, Mariano and Malmgren - leave the camp in a group hoping to reach Kings Bay.
Amundsen joins the rescue effort as well, but disappears, becoming another victim of Nobile's expedition. In the film, Amundsen explains that he died soon after his plane found the remains of the Italia, spotting what appeared to be survivors. The pilot, ordered to land, crashed and was killed. Amundsen survived the crash, but was nonetheless doomed, finding nothing to build shelter or fire with, no supplies and no hope of rescue. The men that had appeared to be survivors when seen from the air were already long dead.
Back at camp, the ice begins to break apart, and the survivors there barely escape from the gondola before it sinks. Alone on the ice, Nobile's survivors find themselves at their bleakest point before finally spotting the Krassin on the horizon. As the ship nears for a rescue, the survivors see Zappi and Mariano waving at them from its deck. Malmgren, who had also joined Zappi, died before he could be rescued.
Pressed for a vote, Samoilovich defends Nobile's actions, noting that his rescue of the survivors was a direct result of Nobile's escape to King's Bay. Neither can he fault Nobile's apparent lack of heroism because a captain has no right to risk his own safety by individual acts of heroism. The others quickly reach a verdict of guilty, but Amundsen discounts the verdict, finding each of the accusers unfit to judge for various reasons, including indifference to others and emotional sterility, but mostly for their bitterness. The accusers file out of Nobile's apartment, Amundsen being the last. With Amundsen, Nobile reveals his feelings of guilt for leaving the men on the ice. While Nobile admits that his decision to join Lundborg was based on a number of reasons, some correct while others were wrong, his first thoughts on entering Lundborg's plane were not of rescue, but of a good hot bath. Amundsen helps Nobile find peace by reminding him that his frailty is only a sign of humanity and not guilt.
This was the first co-production between the Soviet Union and a Western country. The film was made with the approval of Nobile. Nobile said of Finch's casting, "I don't know if he looks like me. But if he reads my books and gets into the spirit of the thing, I'm sure he'll give a splendid interpretation."
Russia provided 60% of the budget, Italy (via producer Franco Castaldi) 40%.
Filming went for 62 weeks. It included location work in the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Baltic Sea and the Svalbard Archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, and studio work in Moscow and Rome. Shooting was completed on 12 April 1969. Paramount picked up the US distribution rights. Robert Bolt did the final draft of the script.
The film was nominated for 1972 Golden Globe Award for Best English-Language Foreign Film.