The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition
2000 | Documentary | 97 minutes | English
The Endurance departed England on August 14, 1914, four days before the outbreak of World War I. Ernest Shackleton, the captain of the ship, set out to be the first to cross the Antarctic continent via the South Pole. When reaching their destination, the temperature suddenly dropped 40 degrees. The sea froze trapping the Endurance within huge blocks of ice. Shackleton concluded that the only way to save the 28 men on the ship was to set out with six men in a lifeboat and cross 800 miles of open sea to a whaling port at South Georgia Island. After 17 days, they reached the island but assistance was nowhere in sight. So, Shackleton and his men, exhausted and without adequate food and water, hiked three more days to find a village with helpful people and equipment. Miraculously, Shackleton was able to rescue his men without a single loss of life. When the Endurance returned to England, World War I was raging. There were no parades or honors for Shackleton and his crew. In fact, many in England considered them war-evaders and malingerers. It was years later, with the publication of Caroline Alexander’s book about the expedition, that these heroic men were given the honors they deserved.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 95%
- Metacritic Score: 85
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards: Winner, Best Documentary
National Board of Review, USA: Winner, Best Documentary
Seattle International Film Festival: Winner, Best Documentary
Portland International Film Festival: Best Documentary
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THE ENDURANCE is a remarkable documentary about an almost unfathomable ordeal. The film tells the tale of human endurance that’s harrowing and at times inspirational, and it just might strike a chord. In its own way, it’s the kind of entertainment audiences could use right now—not blithe escapism nor maudlin sentimentality, but something real that feeds the spirit. Vivid color footage gives us a picture of what the men saw. By far the most valuable footage in the film was shot by the men themselves. The intimate, black-and-white still photos give us a sense of the men’s personalities. These fellows were the last of the seafaring adventurers, people from a complete other time. And yet, with their short hair and wire-rimmed glasses, their faces look so modern that it often comes as a jolt.
The tale of the ENDURANCE is so gripping, so full of improbable turns and agonizing reversals that it bears repeating. Screenwriter Caroline Alexander and producer George Butler tell it straightforwardly and well. What is most remarkable about ENDURANCE is how close it brings you to the raw experience of the voyage itself. The ship’s photographer, Frank Hurley, rescued a batch of negatives from the sinking Endurance, and these ghostly impressions are the heart of the film.
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