The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition

  • 2001
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Documentary

Her crew could never have imagined how prophetic it would be that their ship was named the "Endurance." In August 1914, fame-seeking explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton was hell-bent on becoming the first man to cross the Antarctic on foot and claim this last great terrestrial feather in Britain's cap. Even the start of WWI, just four days before the Endurance...read more

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Reviewed by Stephen Miller
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Her crew could never have imagined how prophetic it would be that their ship was named the "Endurance." In August 1914, fame-seeking explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton was hell-bent on becoming the first man to cross the Antarctic on foot and claim this last great terrestrial feather in Britain's cap. Even the start of WWI, just four days before the Endurance shoved off from Plymouth, England, was no deterrent. Little did Shackleton or his crew of 28 men know that they were destined to star in one of the greatest non-fiction dramas of survival in expedition history, and that they would live to tell their tale. In January 1915, ill winds began buffeting the Endurance — literally. Having found the gateway to its Antarctic destination via the ice-clogged Weddell Sea, a northeasterly gale blew for six days, fusing the loose ice into pack ice. Though designed to withstand such conditions — or so Shackleton thought — the Endurance, a three-masted wooden Barkentine, became trapped in the pack ice's wood-splitting grip, remaining frozen fast for the next ten months. Eventually, the encroaching ice reduced the mighty Endurance to kindling. Shackleton, his men and passel of awfully cute sled dogs were forced to abandon ship. After camping on the ice for another five months, Shackleton had to devise a plan to save his men from certain death, and time was way past running out. How Shackleton and his men ultimately escaped this dire strait is nearly unbelievable. Based on author Caroline Alexander's book of the same title, this film (an international film festival favorite prior to its U.S. theatrical release) recounts their death-defying ordeal in vivid, shiver-me-timbers detail. Not to be confused with SHACKLETON'S ANTARCTIC ADVENTURE, a 40-minute, giant-screen companion film to a widely traveled 1998 U.S. museum exhibition that featured photos and artifacts (Alexander served as curator), documentarian George Butler (PUMPING IRON) wisely opted to stick to the cold, hard facts of the expedition's tale while layering in warmer material, like interviews with historians and descendants of the crew and narrator Liam Neeson's lilting bedtime-story delivery. And then there are the astonishing glass-plate photographs and 35mm film footage retrieved from the ship's wreckage by expedition photographer Frank Hurley (who used it in the 1919 documentary SOUTH: SIR ERNEST SHACKLETON AND THE ENDURANCE EXPEDITION): These images, whose survival itself is nearly miraculous, seem forever — and beautifully — frozen in time.

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  • Released: 2001
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Her crew could never have imagined how prophetic it would be that their ship was named the "Endurance." In August 1914, fame-seeking explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton was hell-bent on becoming the first man to cross the Antarctic on foot and claim this last g… (more)

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