This film is part of Free

Under Sail in the Frozen North

Compelling travel feature edited from footage of the 1925-26 Worsley Algarsson Arctic expedition.

1926 40 mins


Warning: this film contains hunting scenes. This British Arctic expedition set out in 1925 to explore, chart and document the Polar regions north-east of Spitsbergen. The expedition was originally planned by Grettir Algarsson, a 23 year old Icelander brought up in British Columbia, who hoped to pip Roald Amundsen to the North Pole by aeroplane or dirigible launched from a ship. To attract funding he invited Frank Worsley, commander of the Endurance on Sir Ernest Shackleton’s renowned 1914-16 Antarctic journey to command the ship, a brigantine renamed ‘Island’. But even the Worsley connection and some serious scientific objectives didn’t attract the kind of resources needed to be a true contender for the Pole and the aims of the expedition were modified. JC Bee-Mason was appointed cinematographer by Worsley who had met him on Shackleton’s Quest expedition in 1922. He was a bee expert and pioneering natural history filmmaker, an experienced traveller and cinematographer who had just returned from filming the Oxford University Arctic Expedition of 1924.

The two reel travel feature Under Sail in the Frozen North is a partially edited version of the expedition footage. It has a main title, an animated map and beautiful tinting and toning but lacks additional titles. It is possibly a version made for lecturing. As Worsley wrote in his account of the expedition: “To avoid bankruptcy, if possible, Polar expeditions take moving films, and so the cinematographer has been evolved, Mason’s fine work speaks for itself.” The images are stunning. It does contain some hunting footage which is upsetting. Hunting game, seals and bears was a regular part of Arctic expeditions at this time.