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Shackleton - The Greatest Survival Story of All Time (3-Disc Collector's Edition)

4.5 out of 5 stars 106 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Shackleton is not a biopic of the great Anglo-Irish explorer but a dramatization of the failed trans-Antarctic expedition of 1914-1916. As written and directed by Charles Sturridge (Longitude), the production, filmed on real ice floes in Gre

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Shackleton is not a biopic of the great Anglo-Irish explorer but a dramatization of the failed trans-Antarctic expedition of 1914-1916. As written and directed by Charles Sturridge (Longitude), the production, filmed on real ice floes in Greenland, stays remarkably close to the facts, capturing the look of the surviving expedition photos by Frank Hurley (collected in the book South with Endurance) with great fidelity. Kenneth Branagh makes no attempt at an authentic accent but otherwise gives a powerful impression of a most commanding personality. When the expedition ship Endurance became locked in the Antarctic ice, Shackleton vowed to bring every man home alive, and against virtually impossible odds, including a 700-mile journey in an open boat through some of the worst seas in the world, he did just that. This superlative miniseries realizes the story with production values and cinematography that would not disgrace a big-budget feature (South, Hurley's 1919 silent movie featuring some motion-picture footage from the expedition, is also available on video). Intense physical drama, strong performances, and Adrian Johnston's fine score combine here to deeply moving effect, marred only a little by a rushed conclusion. With Roland Huntford, author of the definitive Shackleton biography, as production advisor, this easily stands as the benchmark for all future comparable films. --Gary S. Dalkin

Special Features

  • 50 minute featurette: "The Making Of Shackleton"
  • Ernest Shackleton episode of A&E's award winning series Biography
  • 2 hour bonus program from the History Channel: Antarctica: A Frozen History
  • Biography/ Filmography of Kenneth Branagh

Product Details

  • Actors: Kenneth Branagh, John Grillo, Paul Humpoletz, Phoebe Nicholls, Eve Best
  • Directors: Charles Sturridge
  • Writers: Charles Sturridge
  • Producers: Delia Fine, Emilio Nunez, Francesca Barra, Rupert Ryle-Hodges, Selwyn Roberts
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 9, 2002
  • Run Time: 200 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000063TON
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,364 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Shackleton - The Greatest Survival Story of All Time (3-Disc Collector's Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I saw this film when it was broadcast on UK TV around Christmas 2001. It is a wonderfully acted and hugely evocative historic account of an amazing adventure story. Essentially a British period drama with some fine actors who are eminently believable in their roles. The Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh stars as Shackleton with Lorcan Cranitch and Mark McGann as his loyal lieutenants Frank Wild and Tom Crean.
The first part of the film may drag a little for those eager to get to the ice and the true adventure, but it sets a historical basis for what is to follow. How Shackleton is up against the odds even before his ship has sailed and the planning for an expedition that may not actually happen is a story in itself about Shackleton's self-belief and his intention not to fail those who have put their faith in him.
Once the story gets to the Antarctic, the frozen south and the pack ice, it inspires feelings of "How did they make that look so real, without actually doing it?". The atmosphere of being lost in the middle of endless pack ice is portrayed very realistically and the human emotions of those caught up in this drama are believable.
For those who do not already know the story, I would recommend reading it first in one of the many books available. For me this is one of, if not the most amazing stories of all time. It is like three incredible adventures back to back.
I won't spoil the full story for the uninitiated, but in the first adventure Shackleton's crew are stranded in the Antarctic pack ice for the winter, not a totally unexpected state of affairs in itself, but certainly not good news. This slowly turns to disaster as the ice crushes the ship leaving the crew stranded on crumbling ice, miles (hundreds of miles) from land with no way of summoning help.
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Format: DVD
This movie, combined with the generous bonus material, is a genuine bargain for those wishing to augment their reading on Shackleton's epic Antarctic survival story. It cannot be used as a primary source for learning about it, however.

For that, I highly recommend 'Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage' by Alfred Lansing.

Lansing used the diaries of the men as his primary source, along with interviews of expedition survivors. The result is a much more detailed understanding of all of the men and how they came to be chosen so intuitively by Shackleton, using his unerring sense of not only their particular skills but how they would all work together as a team. Also, it gives one a much better sense than the movie of their interrelationships as the hardships mounted and the sheer length and depth of their struggle to survive. By being able to go well beyond what a necessarily time-limited (and budget-limited) dramatic production can encompass, one is drawn much deeper into the day-to-day struggles the expedition faced and the truly heroic nature of the effort put forth by all - particularly Shackleton. Where the movie gives short shrift to perhaps the most unbelievable part of the entire adventure - the voyage of Shackleton and a few of the men from Elephant Island to South Georgia in a small boat - Lansing's book allows us to relive the sheer terror and utter exhaustion and deprivation the men faced. The movie spent far too much time dwelling on the pre-voyage quest for financial backing and the fairly irrelevant sub-plots about wife and mistress - which, most certainly, had absolutely nothing to do with 'The Greatest Survival Story of All Time'.
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Format: DVD
I certainly thought "Shackleton" was an above-average mini-series, but this is really a first-rate Collector's Edition DVD set. "The Making of Shackleton" featurette is the least impressive of the extras, and it is certainly an above average example of the traditional look behind the scenes of the production on the ice flow in Greenland. However, it is the Ernest Shackleton episode of A&E's "Biography" and the History Channel's "Antarctica: A Frozen History" that are impressive, especially since both incorporate the actual footage and photographs taken by Frank Hurley when the "Endeavor" was trapped in the ice during the failed Trans-Antarctic expedition in 1914-16.
On one level it is hard for this mini-series to compete with those historic pictures: I almost felt as if the movie should have been in black & white as well, in the spirit of the same logic that dictated that approach in "Schindler's List." Of course, here those images become real people trapped in a desperate quest for survival. One advantage of watching the movie on DVD is that you do not have to endure all those commercial breaks, which certainly worked against the drama of 28 men trapped on the ice. The cumulative feelings of hunger and despair should not be dispelled every ten minutes by commercials, otherwise your sense of empathy is hurt.
Kenneth Branagh plays Shackleton without the Irish accent that marked him as a less than authentic British hero in some eyes, but the most important part of his characterization is the idea Shackleton is a flawed hero. What stands out is the way that Branagh embodies the man's contradictions, going from dictatorial outbursts of anger to nonchalant moments of compassion.
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