This exemplary docudrama chronicles the exploits of early 20th-century adventurer Ernest Shackleton (Kenneth Branagh), who failed spectacularly in his first attempt to mount an expedition to Antarctica and staked his reputation on a second. Though Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and Briton Robert Falcon Scott conquered the South Pole in 1911, in 1914 Shackleton continues to fundraise for a cross-country trip through Antarctica. His proposal elicits scorn from the conservative Royal Geographic Society, so Shackleton courts private investors and makes deals with the Daily Chronicle and a newsreel company, woefully neglecting his family in the process. A Scottish laird, Sir James Caird (Robert Hardy), finally kicks in the needed capital just as a new obstacle throws the project into doubt: World War I threatens to make such non-essential travel impossible. Shackleton agrees to have the journey documented by filmmaker Frank Hurley (Matt Day), and secures the okay of the monarchy. When he arrives in Buenos Aires, Argentina (the journey's true starting point), Shackleton weeds the crew of slackers, boards his dogs and sets sail without incident. Further south, however, Shackelton's ship, the all-too-prophetically named Endurance, is unable to navigate past six-foot deep ice packs. Morale sags as the 27 explorers wait for warmer weather, and disaster strikes when the Endurance is damaged by the weight of the shifting ice. Abandoning the ship, which is later crushed to matchsticks, Shackleton insists that the exhausted crew carry three smaller boats over land. With mutiny in the air, Shackleton is forced to admit that the expedition is a failure, but vows to bring his men home alive. Accompanied by a five-man team, Shackelton sets off for a remote whaling station. While the rest of the crew waits in a ramshackle shelter, Shackleton's squad braves sub-zero hardships in order to find and bring back a rescue team. Written and directed by Charles Sturridge, who had the advantage of Hurley's extensive first-hand documentation of the ill-fated trip, this epic real-life adveture tale's second half pulls no punches in portraying the explorers' suffering in a snowy wasteland. But the film's first half is equally fascinating in its depiction of Shackleton's then-novel efforts to use modern marketing techniques he endorses dog food and poses for heroic pictures to drum up financing finance a scientific endeavor.
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- Released: 2002
- Rating: NR
- Review: This exemplary docudrama chronicles the exploits of early 20th-century adventurer Ernest Shackleton (Kenneth Branagh), who failed spectacularly in his first attempt to mount an expedition to Antarctica and staked his reputation on a second. Though Norwegia… (more)