(aka "Krasnaya palatka" or "La Tenda rossa" or "Tsiteli karavi")

 

directed by Mikheil Kalatozishvili ( Mikhail Kalatozov )
Italy / Soviet Union 1971

 

Asked to give his assessment of Umberto Nobile's leadership in the Italia airship disaster of 1927, his friend and colleague, Samoilovich, offers this sage advice, "Men are judged by their actions and their actions by their success". What exactly are the qualities needed for leadership? "The Red Tent" is a wonderful meditation on that question. At the time Nobile was disgraced, he was accused of abandoning his men, and made a scapegoat for the disaster by Benito Mussolini's Fascist government. Forty years after the event his rest is still disturbed by doubts he has about the leadership he exercised. Could the tragedy have been averted? Was it his vanity to be the first to cross the pole by air, that led to the calamity? These and other questions are tackled in this thoughtful film.

The entire film actually takes place in the General's mind. He calls back various participants to the event, to re-live what happened, and ultimately to pass judgment on him. It is this framing device that makes the film unique, for it examines Nobile's leadership from a divergent points of view, allowing the viewers to make their own judgment as well. It is a theatrical device to be sure, but it works in this film. In time we come to learn that truth often walks on two legs and has a left and right hand. "Yet we must have judgment", says one of the participants, and so they do. These scenes which all take place in Nobile's apartment in Rome with it's warmth and comfort, provide a wonderful contrast to the stark reality of the struggle for survival at the Arctic Pole.

The film is beautifully written and the acting is of a high level throughout. Sean Connery, ridding himself of his Bond image, plays Roald Amundsen, the great Arctic explorer at the end of his days. It is Amundsen who exemplifies the qualities a great leader should have. It is the first and in some ways still the best of Connery's wise old man performances. He is also the one participant Nobile has most conspicuously not brought back. After intruding on the proceedings like some force of nature, he describes how he had reached the wreak of the Italia, only to crash land and be stranded. With nothing to do but wait to freeze to death he finds solace in his final moments of life with a book he has found strewn among the wreckage. The cynical Lundborg scornfully rejects this "final touch" as "theatrical" "But who would I be acting for?" Amundsen asks. "Yourself" Lundborg replies. "But that isn't acting," Connery wisely replies, "That's necessary. The trick is to choose the right part." The film is filled with great lines like this. Claudia Cardinale, as Nurse Valaria, provides the emotional center of the film. She resents the good people of King's Bay capitalizing on the disaster, yet she has no misgivings whatever in playing on Amundsen's sense of guilt to get him to mount a rescue attempt. After all he had introduced her lover, the Meteorologist, Finn Malgrem to Arctic exploration. She is also willing to offer herself to Lundborg if he will risk his life to fly in unsafe weather conditions. It is her bitter confrontation with Nobile after he has been safely brought back to King's Bay while the others were left freezing on the ice, that is the beginning of his sleepless nights. His inability to stop Zampi, his ambitious second in command from leaving the red tent with Mariano and Malgrem in a vain attempt to reach help, would result in the Meteorologist being lost on the ice. "You cracked like the ice." she tells the General. "We shall never meet again I hope. And I hope you never forget." He doesn't.

Lastly, Ennio Morricone's lush score captures both the romance of a great endeavor being undertaken and the desolate, ethereal beauty of the Arctic. This film deserves to be seen and heard, and one can only hope that one day it will be restored.

Excerpt taken from GulyJimson review on IMdb located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: 29 July 1971 (USA)

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Paramount

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 2:01:08
Video

1.77:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.59 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Russian / Italian / English  (Dolby 2.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Paramount

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.77:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: August 23, 2005
Keepcase

Chapters 16

 

 

Comments

The DVD image is anamorphic but it's about all you can say in regards to positive-ness. The image is quite heavy, has had some digital manipulation to cover the weak print and there are unusual damage marks (see last capture). The film need a full restoration, which, in all probability, will not happen. This is certainly tube-watchable and I believe there is no Russian DVD available for us to compare (the Russian cut is 30 minutes longer and has a different score plus it's dubbed in Russian. ).

I am not crazy about the yellow subtitles either, or the menus, or the complete lack of extras - On the cover they have the wrong star's name under his graphic portrait. So, a bad DVD all around, but it may possibly be the best you'll get if you want to see this film.

NOTE: For those interested HERE is an mp3 of the Russian music theme for the film for people to compare it to Morriconne's excellent score.

- Gary Tooze

 

 






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Screen Captures


Subtitle sample

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 
Damaged frame

 

 

 



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CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Paramount

Region 1 - NTSC


 




 

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