The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition Movie Review

Based on the book by Caroline Alexander, George Butler's documentary The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition assembles a story of the polar expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton, a family man who perhaps was more of an adventurer than he was a scientist. His attempt to cross the South Pole from sea to sea became famous not for its scientific discovery -- the South Pole had already been discovered -- but for the above-human stoicism of the crew and Shackleton's incredible leadership abilities.

When Shackleton placed an ad in the paper to recruit 27 men for his crew, he straightforwardly listed what was to be expected from the voyage: bitter cold, constant danger, and no guarantee of return. 5,000 men, from all possible backgrounds and upbringings, responded, hungry for adventure and glory -- an example of how people can be so fatally attracted to the unknown. The preparations were completed by the start of World War I, when Winston Churchill, ambivalent about the use of another trip to the Antarctica, nevertheless declined Shackleton's offer to donate his ship Endurance to the Admiralty, sending the crew on their way.

Director George Butler utilizes a wide range of research and innovation in capturing the adventure: still photographs and the actual film footage shot en route, rare data available to descendants of the survivors, private diaries, and modern historical analysis of the journey. Narrated by the impartial voice of Liam Neeson, we get a chronological account of Shackleton's incredible journey. Blazing a new path to the South Pole through the Weddell Sea, Shackleton was hoping to take a full advantage of the Antarctic summer. But soon, Endurance became surrounded by pack ice that made it nearly impossible to push through. After crawling for days, ice finally sealed the ship in place, marooning the crew in the middle of the sea for seven months. To keep the spirits up, they amused each other with theatrical and musical evenings.

The film captures superbly the agony of waiting: the solemn musical score enhances the effects of 28 men trying to break the ice with shovels and picks before eventually abandoning the ship and eventually the mission altogether. With the South Pole unattainable, Shackleton's new goal became survival. What happened then was due to Shackleton's incredible leadership and strategic abilities and made the Endurance expedition one of the most incredible testimonies of the power of the human spirit and a legendary adventure of its era.

As with most great discoveries or achievements, Shackleton's return, after almost two years at sea, wasn't immediately recognized or celebrated -- it was far from glorious. On one hand, the film tells a story that is so gripping and full of unexpected turns it makes one rush to track it on a map. On the other hand, however, pockets of silence and an often sluggish rhythm take away from that suspense, diluting the energy of what otherwise would have been quite a great film.

Into the ice.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer :

Starring :


The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition Rating

" Good "

Rating: G, 2001


More Liam Neeson

Lead Film Roles That Could Have Looked Very Different

With Robert Downey Jr fitting so perfectly as likeable irritant Tony Stark, Christian Bale slipping so easily into the tortured billionaire psyche of Bruce Wayne...

A Walk Among the Tombstones Trailer

Matt Scudder gave up his high-flying job with the NYPD after accidentally shooting dead a civilian while chasing away a group of criminals trying to...

A Million Ways to Die in the West Movie Review

After the success of Ted, Seth MacFarlane gives himself his first leading-man role in this hilarious but overlong comedy-Western. The film is clearly a passion...

'Third Person': Check Out The Trailer For Paul Haggis' "Russian Doll" Drama

The release of Paul Haggis' unique new drama, Third Person, is looming and fans can finally check out the trailer for the movie that had...


Third Person Trailer

Love is never uncomplicated and when a third person gets involved, it can make things even more difficult. Michael is an award-winning novelist who has...

Road Trailer

Robert and Joey Dunlop were two brothers from a country village in Northern Ireland who shared a deep passion for motorcycle racing. They were champions...

A Million Ways To Die In The West Trailer

Albert is a rather introverted sheep farmer who tries at all costs to avoid confrontation with the occasional gun-toting outlaw who may pass through the...

Salma Hayek Reveals Hard Work Behind "The Prophet" At Cannes In-Progress Premiere

Salma Hayek took to Cannes to show and promote The Prophet this weekend – her own creative baby, based onKhalil Gibran's philosophical novel. Hayek is...