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The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition

4.6 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews

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(Sep 02, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Narrated by Academy Award®-nominated actor Liam Neeson (1993, Best Actor, Schindler’s List), THE ENDURANCE is a faithful and dramatic documentary of the ill-fated expedition to Antarctica by Sir Ernest Shackleton from 1914-1916. Featuring interviews with family, on-location footage, archived audio interviews and letters from the expedition members, as well as still photography from the journey, THE ENDURANCE is a compelling and complete look into the men who boldly took on an impossible task, and tried to survive when all hope seemed lost.

Several films have documented or dramatized the incredible saga of Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated trans-Antarctic expedition, but The Endurance offers the most comprehensive one-source reference. Originally presented as a PBS Nova special and narrated by Liam Neeson, this excellent film--based on Caroline Alexander's acclaimed book, also titled after the ironic name of Shackleton's doomed ship--chronicles the astonishing events of 1914-16, when Shackleton and 27 crewmen survived against all odds after their ship was crushed in the polar ice floes. This is the only "Shackleton" film to incorporate new footage, expert interviews, dramatic recreations (without dialogue), and expedition photographer Frank Hurley's archival film and photographs. The cumulative effect of this extensive material gives the viewer an almost palpable sense of the expedition's hardship and unlikely survival, made possible in part by a man who had precisely the required experience and leadership skills, and in part by what can only be described as divine intervention. No matter how you interpret it, this is rightly called "the greatest survival story ever told." --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • "Beyond the Endurance" featurettes

Product Details

  • Directors: George Butler
  • Writers: Joseph Dorman, Mose Richards, Crystal Spijer
  • Producers: George Butler
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    General Audience
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 2, 2003
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000A7W16
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,869 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mr. Joe TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 19, 2001
In August 1914, the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, comprised of 27 men under the leadership of Sir Ernest Shackleton, set sail from England in the wooden ship ENDURANCE. The plan was to land a team on the Antarctic Continent, and the men to dogsled across the frozen landmass to the other side via the South Pole. However, one day's sail from the Antarctic shore, the vessel became entrapped in the ice pack, and was subsequently crushed and sunk. Shackleton and his group were stranded on the drifting floes out of contact with and beyond the ken of the rest of the world. The expedition's grueling, heroic journey back to civilization, culminating in an 800-mile voyage across a stormy, frigid ocean by Shackleton and five companions in a small, open boat, is the subject of this documentary based on the book by Caroline Alexander.
The spell-binding nature of this film is due to the masterful mix of material from several sources: archival 35mm footage, still photos and drawings from the expedition itself, narrated excerpts from diaries, radio interviews with survivors and filmed interviews with their descendents, and contemporary film footage shot along the route of the men's ordeal. One is amazed at the quality of the 35mm moving images shot by Frank Hurley, the team's photographer. What you see is not a re-enactment - it's real, and as crisp as if shot only last week instead of almost ninety years ago.
Besides being the visual narrative of an extraordinary survival story, ENDURANCE is also a show-and-tell presentation on the essence of leadership. Two years after departing England, Shackleton successfully brought all his 27 men back from the brink of extinction. Not a single member of the venture was lost.
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'The Endurance' is a documentary originally aired as a 'Nova' special, and is one of the most amazing documentaries on any subject that I have ever seen. In the summer of 1914 Ernest Shackleton and his crew set sail on the 'Endurance' for Antarctica, with the goal of being the first expedition to cross the Antarctic continent. After becoming ensnared in ice their ship slowly disintegrated, and forced the survivors onto land, and eventually into their small wooden lifeboats in an attempt to make a perilous voyage back to civilization.
The crew endured for 635 days and nights without real shelter or sufficient rations, frequently eating seal blubber and even their beloved dogs. As an animal lover, I came to realize the true depths of their situation when they had to shoot their cat and dogs, and ultimately eat some of their true canine friends.
The story is one of tremendous hubris and heroism all wrapped up into one larger than life explorer. Shackleton's true gift was not in being a great explorer, but in being able to largely control the morale of the crew and provide leadership when it was most critical. Only thanks to that leadership did every man on the expedition survive.
The documentary itself is a brilliant mix of the film shot by expedition photographer Frank Hurley (including a lot of motion picture film) and modern film of the sites in question, along with a bit of reenactment footage of recreated lifeboats identical to the originals. The work is seamless, deeply moving, and will give anyone a new appreciation for the powers of ice and the human spirit.
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This version is good, no question. It accurately portrays the story of the Endurance. But if you are a true fan of this wonderful adventure, you must see the original Nova version. David Ogden Stiers narration is magnificent. His intonation and phrasing perfectly reflect the mood of the adventure and places you amid the expedition. Interviews with descendants are plentiful and seem almost as effective as if they were the participants themselves. Expert interviewees add insight into the natural forces that were in constant combat with the expedition. Last and not least, the soundtrack is a subject lesson in matching mood and music. I'm lucky enough to have a poor VHS recording of the original Nova production. I would buy a DVD of it in a heartbeat if Amazon could find it.
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"The Endurance"--the saga of the struggle of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew to survive the Antarctic wastes--is more amazing than any plot Hollywood has ever devised, and every word of it is true. The closest real-life equivalent I can think of is the story of Apollo 13--and whereas that crisis lasted three days and involved three men, the story of the Endurance lasted two years and involved 28. The film footage and still photos by Frank Hurley, Shackleton's official photographer, add an eerie, you-are-there quality to the bleakly gorgeous, modern-day footage of Antarctica taken by director George Butler. (That so much of Hurley's film survived is in itself incredible.) While the courage and stamina of the crew were amazing, I also can't forget the tales of all-too-human pettiness among them. I'll always remember the snooty, aristocratic Col. Thomas Orde-Lee, who disdained rowing but eagerly bailed out his boat (rowing was for commoners, but bailing was heroic). I also can't forget Shackleton's total lack of forgiveness for mutinous ship's carpenter Chippy McNish, even after McNish repented of his rebellion and took actions which essentially saved the lives of all the crew. In showing both the grandeur and the pettiness of the human spirit--as well as the mercilessness of the perpetual Antarctic winter--"The Endurance" is one of the greatest stories of exploration, as well as one of the best movies of 2001.
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