Mr Forbush and the Penguins

Format: DVD


John Hurt gives one of his strongest performances as a self-absorbed, feckless dilettante on the wrong end of a sharp dose of realism in his turbulent portrayal of a frightened, isolated human being coming to terms with the harshness of life on the bleak Antarctic continent. Undoubtedly influenced by real-life shenanigans experienced during production (he threatened to walk when both his leading lady and director were replaced) Hurt's fiery performance here is equally as compelling as either his Scrawdyke or Quentin Crisp and is certainly strong enough to hold one's attention throughout (barring the short introduction in London and the odd visitor at Shackleton's hut it's basically Hurt and the penguins all the way through).

Mr Forbush and the Penguins

The film is not without its faults but Bernard Gribble's editing firmly intercuts the sometimes-harsh penguin footage with Hurt's performance to create something hugely compelling - never moreso than during Forbush's futile plan to kill the skuas that are ravaging the penguin population, wherein the whole scene is powerfully paced and structured to evoke a savage march to a crucifixion. Badly marketed on its original release (press material featured a horrific composition of cartoon penguins, love hearts and the most un-John Hurt like illustration of John Hurt ever put to paper), this harsh contemplation on nature, isolation and one man's self-discovery is undoubtedly a diamond in the rough but one definitely worth preserving.

Steve Rogers

Mr Forbush and the Penguins


John Hurt takes the title role in this study of a man’s journey to self-discovery in the frozen isolation of Antarctica. Co-starring Hayley Mills and Dudley Sutton, with a script from award-winning writer Anthony Shaffer and wildlife sequences shot by multi-award-winning filmmaker Arne Sucksdorff, Mr. Forbush and the Penguins is presented here in a brand-new transfer from the original film elements.

Life for Richard Forbush, brilliant biology student and conceited philanderer, is one long round of eat, drink and be merry. But his decision to accept a six-month research post in the Antarctic, making the first detailed study of a penguin colony, changes all that...

Living in Shackleton’s derelict hut, Forbush is alone at the frozen edge of the world, his only links to civilisation a two-way radio and letters to his elusive, would-be girlfriend, Tara, in London. Through an often ferocious winter in the company of the penguins, he grows increasingly attached to his hardy, endearing subjects – learning profound lessons in endurance and humility.

[] 41-minute music suite of Oscar-winning composer John Addison’s original score
[] Image gallery
[] Promotional material PDF

Mr Forbush and the Penguins

Number of Discs
1.75:1 / Colour
Mono / English
2 / PAL
98 mins approx