On The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition (2001):
It was in the early modern age—1914—that Sir Ernest Shackleton sailed from London with his 28-member crew with the goal of trekking across Antarctica. They were not the first group of men never to have made it there. An earlier group were said to have lost their sanity; like Shackleton’s men, they were long stuck—or, rather, their ship was long stuck—in a monstrous icepack in the middle of the ocean. Shackleton and Co. were there for ten months before shifting ice devastated their seacraft and forced them to abandon ship, after which they started drifting on the icepack. The name of the destroyed ship was Endurance; George Butler’s dandy documentary makes it clear that the men could have been called the Endurance Team. Except “endurance” is too mild a word for what these guys exhibited during their faraway nightmarish hardships. Shackleton’s only goal now was to return all of his men to civilization alive. Could he do it?
An offbeat item: Shackleton and four other gents, after sailing in a lifeboat to South Georgia Island, learn they must travel on foot through the uncharted island to get to a whaling station. Along the way they sense there is an extra person, or presence, with them, and an interviewed relative opines that this must have been “the Man Upstairs.”
The look of Butler’s film is marvelous. . . Vintage movie footage and photographs by one of the crew’s members, Frank Hurley, are instructively memorable. Interviews with descendants and a polar historian contribute neither too much nor too little. They hold us—and Liam Neeson’s narration is good. Hail to the makers of The Endurance, one of the most riveting docs I’ve seen, and a family film to boot.