Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition (2000) G - 4 Stars

Based on the book by Caroline Alexander, this documentary tells the survival of 28 men aboard the Endurance. In 1914, Ernest Shackleton set out to be the first man to ever cross the continent of Antarctic. He placed an honest ad stating the "low wages and miserable conditions," and the fact they may not return at all. Over 5,000 men answered the call.

Yes it feels like an episode from the History Channel but I really enjoyed this film showing the spirit of human survival. Taken from journals and actual footage by cameraman Frank Hurley, director George Butler shifts between his retracing of the voyage to that of Ernest Shackleton's in 1914, blending back and forth from B&W to modern day. With Liam Neeson narrating, the film gives an eerie depiction of men facing treacherous conditions, freezing temperatures, starvation and the ice floes that consumed their ship. And when you think their luck can't get any worse, the crew faces nothing but more obstacles. Very sad to see the pack dogs that had to be shot in order to survive, with some even eaten. Once they had lost their ship, the men were forced to march onward pulling as much as they could along with them. As the ice cracked below their feet, the men were the forced to seek refuge in the only three tiny life boats that were salvaged. As they nearly escape their frozen death, the tiny life boats are tossed into a violent ocean with the only solid land close enough being Elephant Island. The men rejoice thinking they've been saved but with it's high cliffs and limited shelter, the men could not survive much longer. Shackleton and two others set sail on a course of 800 miles set to South Georgia Island. With primitive navigation methods these men could not afford to go off course. As they land on South Georgia Island, they are on the wrong side of the whaling community and now must cross by land over ice packed cliffs in order to get to the other side. Once these three were rescued, their attempts took over 4 months to be able to approach Elephant Island and rescue the other men. Despite every odd against them, the courage of their "boss," turned out to be enough to keep their spirits just above desperation. 28 men would set sail aboard the Endurance that day and almost 2 years later, 28 returned.

Awards Include:

2001 - Chicago Film Critics Association - Best Documentary
2001 - National Board of Review - Best Documentary

White Mountain Films, Nova Entertainment, Cowboy Pictures
Director: George Butler
Writer: Joseph Dorman
Producer: George Butler
I viewed 4/10

1 comment:

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