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Cowboy Booking International
Director: George Butler
Producers: Louise Rosen, Steven Stoke
Written by: Caroline Alexander, Joseph Dorman
Narrator: Liam Neeson

Rating: out of 5

If you like Antarctic history, you’ll love THE ENDURANCE.

Chock-full of extensive historical content and amazing footage, THE ENDURANCE provides solid documentation of Irishman Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 expedition to the South Pole.

Shackleton, a man with an extraordinary obsession for exploration, placed an ad in the newspaper saying, “Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey.” He had previously led two unsuccessful journeys to claim the South Pole. At age 40, this was his last chance. The Norwegians had won the honor of actually discovering the Pole prior to this, his third trip. Ouch! That had to hurt.

The film bears the name of the three-masted wooden sailing ship that the 28-man crew navigated. Unfortunately, the ship got stuck in the ice on the way, just one day’s sail away from the Antarctic continent. The men were missing in action for nearly two years, as World War I swept over the European continent.

THE ENDURANCE opens with testimonials from children and grandchildren of the men on the expedition, who are all really, really old now. Though some of them are a little hard to understand, this does serve to set the time period well. The beginning and middle of the film flow nicely as the characters and story are introduced.

From there, it’s a series of new footage of breathtaking Irish, Scottish and English seascapes, coupled with remarkable vintage footage of the voyage. The latter was captured by Frank Hurley, an Australian photographer and cinematographer who went along for the ride. Periodic readings of candid crew members’ diary entries add to the reality of the catastrophic event.

THE ENDURANCE is sort of like “Castaway” for real, without the cheesy love story. Although, it might have been nice to have a little more love in the film. George Butler, the man we have to thank for introducing Arnold Schwarzenegger to the international film world, fails at conveying the roots of Shackleton’s vision to the audience. We are left to decide for ourselves whether Shackleton is a sublime optimist or an ignorant adventurer. In other words, the documentary is well framed, but the interior is lacking a bit.

The concluding portion of THE ENDURANCE disappointed me a bit. After their long, treacherous journey is over, there is an all-too-brief segment on what happened to the men. We are told that most entered WWI after their return, but are left wondering how the amazing escapade affected their lives, short-term or long-term.

—Michelle Fajkus

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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