In 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew set off for Antarctica with the goal of crossing the continent. Before reaching the coast, the ship became frozen in pack ice, and was crushed. The crew would have been doomed were it not for the exceptional seamanship and navigational talents of Captain Frank Worsley. This feature-length docudrama recounts the true story of the expedition.
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Amazon presented this movie as one I might like, presumably from my having read the 1958 Alfred Lansing book "Endurance" about 3 years ago, which I found riveting. The documentary is excellent, as is the book "Endurance." Be aware that neither is for the faint of heart. The movie includes film & stills by the voyage's photographer Frank Hurley, really amazing, but it spares you some of the graphic horrors of what the men endured in two years of defying all odds to survive. The book "Endurance" does not; it's not an easy read but I could barely put it down. Yes, I would recommend the documentary "Shackleton's Captain" for its history and it is quite a compelling story. And yes, as a side note, I can also recommend the book "Endurance"--it's not a focus on Worsley's incredible navigational skills like this documentary, but it's more of the whole story and is a very good read.
“It takes more strength to live then die.” And that sums up the ordeal they went through. Shakleton gets the credit, but Capt. Worsley made success possible with his skill in navigation, especially with small boats. The movie is a combination of footage shot at the time, and some re-enactments, but in all, the tremendous courage and effort to survive comes through. A total of 5000 applied for the expedition, and only 26 were accepted. I do wonder if the ones who were not chosen consider themselves blessed. They got to within 60 miles of their destination which would then have required walking 1800 miles. But the ice closed in and they spent six months drifting in the ice pack before the Endurance went under. With tremendous effort, all of them made it to Elephant Island. Six set out in a reinforced life boat to reach Georgia Island, and when they got to within 15 miles, hurricane force winds hit, and they were lucky to get to shore, but it was the wrong side of the island. The re-enactment of that journey shows that nature gave them no breaks. Four of them then set out to cross the island to the whaling station. The interior of the island had never been mapped. Once they made it to the whaling station immediately they went to rescue the two men on the other side of the island. Yet, there were still 22 men on Elephant Island. On the fourth try, the men were rescued, having spent 128 days of very cold conditions on the island. All survived. That this is an accounting of something that actually happened makes this movie all the more memorable. And seeing pictures and film taken during the time they were frozen in the pack ice, and part of their journey out adds to the authenticity of the film. It is done like a travelogue, with Worsley narrating the journey, and some commentary by historians. I am stingy with 5 stars, but his movie earns it, if just for the tenacity of the men. I truly cannot see anyone today being able to duplicate their journey with the materials they had available at the time. I did spot a filming goof. In their crossing of Elephant Island, in one scene there is a parallel set of footprints, so we were seeing a likely re-take. Otherwise, it was virgin snow.
So pretty much the most unworthy story to tell, Shackleton was a con, like his brother, is my assessment. It isn't clear if Shackleton was an adventurer or grand scam artist. There's no proof to ever know if this entire story is true or a publicity con concocted by Shackleton and a couple other guys going along with it. If it all were true, Shackleton isn't a hero - he endangered 28 lives in the most reckless way and the men involved seemed to enjoy little or were damaged by the experience, save Worsely. I found it all just awful not inspiring at all. Btw, if you're surrounded by abundant animal life for meat and stuck at the frozen top of the earth, you don't store anything extra …. ? So you end up eating your best buddy dogs? And that impossible trek over the snowy artic mountain range after months in icy treacherous water without sleep … ? Where would the food or fire come from and their boots and artic clothing supposedly lasted basically 2 years in those extreme conditions? Cmonnn. Seriously.
I have read Frank Worsley's "Shackleton's Boat Journey" many times. That book should be required reading for any leadership course. Shackleton's Captain is taken directly from that book. The video presentation could stand some better editing and most of the negative issues are minor. This video presentation falls short of 5 stars more due poor editing than content but there are some scenes that are a bit over-produced as well. Overall, the video presentation follows the book but is longer than needed.
This film gives a good treatment to an epic story of struggle and determination that defies fitting into 85 minutes. It's really hard to do better than the book. As another reviewer stated, it's probably best to start with a book then come back here. For me the real gem was the clips of Frank Hurley's filming, which I hadn't seen before. For more, search YouTube for Hurley's "South" from 1919.
For someone who doesn't have time to read the book, which Im confident is even better, this does an excellent job telling me the story of a failed Antarctica expedition, but a highly successful recovery. The film never once gives you any idea how this will end, but the characters endurance is absolutely amazing considering the Freezing cold and wet conditions. Watch and enjoy.
A fabulous filming of a fabulous true-life adventure. I read about South Polar exploration as a child instead of doing my homework. Shackleton was my hero growing up and the reason I went down to Antarctica 5 times (including once in a topsail schooner) and lived on the Falkland Islands for 6 years. This film actually has footage that I had never seen before, and that's saying something. Worsley was some kind of navigating genius. South Georgia and particularly Elephant Island are specks in the ocean, just specks. I've been to both and there really is no landing spot on Elephant Island. The British Antarctic Survey tried to recreate Shackleton's traverse of South Georgia to Stromness and failed. Really fun and enjoyable, if exploration in the Golden Age is your thing. Highly Recommended.