The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition

Documentary produced by White Mountains Films and released in 2000 by Cowboy Booking International, color 35mm negative including original black-and-white footage by the 1914 expedition photographer Frank Hurley that was used in a 1919 theatrical release, 1.85:1 screen ratio, stereo sound, 93 mins.




Sir Ernest Shackleton with 27 crewmen of the ship Endurance mounted an expediton between 1914 and 1916 to the South Pole. Shackleton had been with the failed expedition of Robert F. Scott in 1902 and in1908 led another effort on the ship Nimrod to reach the South Pole, but that objective would be first achieved on December 14, 1911, by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen. "A veteran of previous Antarctic voyages, Shackleton wanted to be the first man to cross that continent by foot. Despite the scorn of government officials such as Winston Churchill, who felt "enough life and money has been spent on this sterile quest," Shackleton had a ship built and named after his family motto ("by endurance we conquer") and signed on a crew of 27. They left for the south in August 1914, just a few days before the outbreak of World War I. To say that things did not go as planned would be quite an understatement. Less than a day from reaching the Antarctic's shore, the Endurance saw temperatures suddenly drop from 20 to 70 below, causing polar ice to close around the ship like a vice. "What the ice gets," Shackleton said, with ominous foreboding, "the ice keeps." The commander's first task was to keep his men occupied and content during the 10 long months till the ice would thaw. Determined to bring everyone back alive, Shackleton used the force of his will as much as anything else to keep them from cracking. Dealing with the elements, he was to say, was not the hardest job; "dealing with the human spirit is very difficult." When the Endurance was destroyed just before the thaw, Shackleton and his men embarked on a complex journey of several parts that included a legendary open-boat crossing across "800 miles of the world's most dangerous ocean" in a 22-foot lifeboat. Every time the captain and crew succeeded at surviving one ordeal, an even more unnerving challenge inevitably took its place. Truly, as one of the men wrote, "fate seemed absolutely determined to thwart us." Ironically, these plucky survivors got no hero's welcome when they returned to a Britain shell-shocked by the catastrophic killing levels of World War I." (quote from Kenneth Turan review)


revised 12/24/01 by Schoenherr | Filmnotes