Review by Chastity Campbell
Narrator: Liam Neeson
Director: George Butler
Audio: Dolby Digital Surround
Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Features: See Review
Length: 97 Minutes
Release Date: September 2, 2003
I have heard it said throughout my life that a picture is
worth a thousand words. After
watching and listening to the story about The Endurance, I am left
wondering how many words black and white photos and video footage of one of the
most hard won battles against every element imaginable would be worth?!
Sir Ernest Shackleton set out on a journey to the South
Pole for the third and final time in his life, during the early 1900s.
He would have no way of knowing that this journey being captured by still
frame photos and video footage would last a lot longer than he or any his crew
Sliding through the ice flows that lead to the Antarctic
shelf where he and few of his crew would set off by sled to the South Pole,
Shackleton’s ship The Endurance was surrounded by pack ice and became
frozen in place.
After trying unsuccessfully to cut themselves free of their
ice prison, the men were forced to endure the bitter cold with the knowledge
that they may well be standing on their final resting place.
Through shear grit and determination Ernest Shackleton
managed to keep his crew alive, for 635 days and nights.
They traversed the icy landscape by foot until they were able to set off
for Elephant Island in the dingy boats that they had drug behind them across
their floating prison.
Once they had reached the island, the captain, decided to
set out in one of the dingy boats for a whaling station that lay more than 400
miles away. It was
their only hope, but he was more than determined that every man who took a
chance on his expedition would make it home safe and sound.
I was more than impressed with the depth and hard work that visibly went into the making of this documentary. The photos and video footage shot by the ship’s photographer were absolutely brilliant. He was able to capture the spirit of these men while they endured conditions no human being should ever have to be exposed to.
The photos show the unwavering faith that each man had in
his captain, and helped to demonstrate how Shackleton’s calm and controlling
mannerism kept hope alive for the men.
There were a few tense moments as Shackleton was challenged
by an errant crew member, but he showed he was made of tougher stuff and stood
his ground no matter how hard the tide of despair pulled against him and his
Liam Neeson did a magnificent job narrating the story of
this ship and her crew. I don’t
know if it’s the burr in his accent or the soothing tone of his voice, but it
certainly helped add more color to this black and white roller coaster ride.
Speaking of color, the film images of the locations these
men survived in were breathtaking. The
colors were crisp and vivid, and I personally think they helped to bring this
documentary more into focus with modern times.
It’s so easy to look at photos and images of old and not be able to
make a connection to them because they seem so foreign to modern eyes.
When a filmmaker can take those images and combine them with modern
cinematography, it lights a fire under the memories each photo holds and brings
it into focus a little better.
I strongly recommend this DVD if you enjoy history or
documentaries in general. It was
very nicely put together and packaged with the viewer in mind.
Pick up your copy today and enjoy a piece of history…I know I did.
Bear in mind that this documentary was put together with
photos and film footage from the early 1900s, and you cannot help but be
impressed with how well things blended.
The images shot in modern times of those far away places
are a beautiful contrast to the stark black and white images, and film footage
shot by the ship’s photographer. For
filming to be in the early stages of development, this gentleman really knew
which moments to capture in order to paint the biggest of mosaic pictures.
While you have to give a bit in the quality arena you
don’t have to give too much. The
colors shot now were vivid and crisp with only a hint of digital hazing around
the edges. The black and white
photos and film footage was cleaner than I expected something from that time
period to be. I can only assume
some clean up and restoration work was done to the images in order to make them
stand out so boldly.
Quite a nice visual experience, if I do say so myself.
I was impressed by the audio on this DVD.
The Dolby Digital Surround sound was used to very nice effect throughout
the entire disc. The
voiceover was balanced nicely against the score, and included for those people
who may already know the story is the ability to turn off the dialogue and view
this disc as a collage of video and still photos set to very appropriate music.
The audio quality was very good with little to no audible
disruptions. There were no
dips or dropouts detectable, and I just have to say again, how impressed I was
with this DVD’s sound quality.
Ah, shiver me timbers mate…these features brought my oars
out of the water!
A featurette titled “Beyond The Endurance,”
gives insight into the production of this documentary as well as never before
Commentary by Director George Butler is included, as well
as the ability to select the isolated score.
A section titled “Beyond The Endurance,”
contains four separate parts that take you behind the making of this
documentary. There is an insight
section dedicated to the director of the film, George Butler.
A section titled “In The Wake Of Shackleton,” goes behind the
scenes and shows you how this disc came together.
“Iconic Images,” is a featurette on the life of Frank Hurley, through
stories told by his daughters. And
finally “Past and Present,” brings together the descendants of The
Endurance for the opening of an exhibit dedicated to the ship and it’s
Trailers for, “The Endurance,” “Anne Frank
Remembered,” and “Vertical Limit,” (I’m still not sure how Vertical
Limit fits into a DVD like this one, other than the obvious snow factor!)
are included for you to view.
Interactive menus, and subtitles in English and French all
serve to round out this DVD’s features.