The story of the 1914-1916 Antarctic exploration mission of Sir Ernest Shackleton. The ship sails south, breaking the ice, and ultimately getting trapped by the fast-changing weather. The ... See full summary »
The story of the 1914-1916 Antarctic exploration mission of Sir Ernest Shackleton. The ship sails south, breaking the ice, and ultimately getting trapped by the fast-changing weather. The ship breaks up in the ice, and while 22 men and 70 dogs wait on Elephant Island, Shackleton and a crew of five take a 20-foot lifeboat 800 miles to South Georgia Island to mount a rescue mission. We also get a good look at the exotic animals of the region, particularly the penguins. Written by
Jon Reeves <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is a remarkable film, just in that Frank Hurley was there--surviving the harsh conditions and circumstances like the rest of Sir Ernest Shackleton's crew. Moreover, he didn't interfere, or invent a story, in the way other pioneer documentary filmmakers did, as with "In the Land of the Head Hunters" (1914), Flaherty's "Nanook of the North" (1922) or the films by Cooper and Schoedsack. He had an interesting and amazing story and only needed to record it. Hurley tells the adventure of Schackleton's Antarctic expedition largely by intertitles, but there is some interesting photography, nonetheless.
Film-making isn't a priority when lives are in peril, so the title cards, in addition to still photographs and some drawings help to tell the entire story. Most of the moving pictures are of the exotic animals they encountered and the many dogs they took with them to Antarctica. There's also the slow demise of their ship, Endurance. Two of the images that stood out to me, however, were the shadows of crosses upon the ice when the ship was battering through it and the shot of the ship charging full stern ahead, approaching the camera head on, a la the Lumière brothers' "Arrivée d'un train" (1895). Mostly, the motion pictures help illustrate a story told by intertitles, but it's quite a story. And, like its subjects, the film remarkably survived.
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