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Sir Ernest Shackleton:
What is going on here?
McNish, here, feels that there's--
Sir Ernest Shackleton:
Get these men back to work, Captain. There's a base up ahead; Charlie's setting up a hooch tent. Now move, and that's an order.
You've no authority!
Sir Ernest Shackleton:
Don't talk to me about authority! Who gave you the authority to have 20 men standing still here freezing? Who gave you the authority to risk their lives while you discuss what you think?! You want to know WHY they're doing what they're doing? *Because I told them to.* If you think that's ...
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If this was a fictional story you watched in the cinema, you would leave thinking how unrealistic it was. You would know, after all, that keeping twenty-eight men alive in the wastelands of Antarctica, stranded and starving, is an impossible task, particularly set at the beginning of the twentieth century with the limited technology available. However, this is fact. This story did happen. And this is one of the most accurate films depicting the story of the "Endurance" expedition that you could hope for.
The story of Shackleton has passed on into legend. His attempt to cross the Antarctic continent on foot ended in disaster; his ship, the Endurance, crushed by the ice fields, leaving its crew on the ice sheet. Determined to survive, and displaying all the valour and courage he had demonstrated in his previous expedition (the "Nimrod", in which he turned back less than 100 miles from the pole in order to save the lives of his men), he began an incredible journey to the uninhabited Elephant Island, before having to contemplate a trip to South Georgia: a trip of 800 miles in a lifeboat...
This wonderful two-part adventure is accurate to almost every detail. A lot of research went into this film, consulting books, articles, experts, and even the diaries of the men themselves. And it doesn't make the mistake of solely confining itself to the story of Shackleton's heroism; indeed, the first two hours concentrates largely on the effort Sir Ernest put into forming the expedition, and the many obstacles that stood in his path - financially and emotionally.
Directed by award-winning Charles Sturridge, the casting is superb, particularly in the case of the protagonist, who - it must be said - looks a little like Shackleton himself. Well done, Celestia Fox! From Kenneth Branagh, a resourceful and irresistible Ernest Shackleton, down to to ex-Coronation Street's Ian Mercer as the simple Holdness, every character is brought into the 21st century with as much life as they had on the frozen shores of Elephant Island, thanks partly to a bombastic score of Adrian Johnston's invention.
There are only a couple of criticisms that one could make; for example, there continue to be references back to England, but there is no reunion at the end of the film between Shackleton and Emily, which could have been a way of saying "I'm back". I feel, however, that this continues to give "Shackleton" more character, as Sir Ernest only felt comfortable when exploring; never when at home with his family.
Another slight flaw is that there is next to no mention of the fate of the Aurora expedition, the crew assigned the task of aiding Shackleton to the other side of the continent (had the expedition gone to plan, of course!) However, this does not really relate to Shackleton himself, and indeed Sir Ernest seemed to forget about them until his men were brought over from Elephant Island.
Really, there is nothing major wrong with this film. It fully deserves 10 out of 10, and despite the DVD having no extras whatsoever, it is still worth the £15 for the pure entertainment you are given for the most enjoyable four hours of the small screen.
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