Narrated by Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey and featuring the voice of noted British actor Michael Gambon, with grainy footage and photographs taken from the original expedition as well as modern dramatic reenactment, "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure" is a thrilling yarn and a real treat for history buffs and fans of true-life adventure.
In 1914, celebrated explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton launched the Imperial Trans-Atlantic Expedition with the plan to cross the largely unexplored Antarctic continent. En route, Shackleton's ship, The Endurance, became inextricably lodged in an ice flow. Trapped for months, pressure from the shifting ice eventually crushed the boat, forcing Shackleton's expedition to set out for their own rescue.
It was a harrowing journey
Usually, ElectricSky films succeed when they focus more on gorgeous panoramic views that emphasize immensity than when too much attention is given to smaller details that don't always translate as well to the huge screen.
"Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure" is an exception. The vastness of the screen serves to heighten the terrible awesomeness of the task Shackleton and his six-man rescue crew faced in their tiny, modified sailboat.
Still, far from being a grim depiction of privation and suffering, the archival footage taken by the expedition's photographer Frank Hurley is often lighthearted and shows a side of the adventure not usually remembered: they managed to have a lot of fun. Hurley's footage shows the group's camaraderie and how they were at play, as well as how hard they worked to stay alive.
"Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure" is a better than average giant screen film, but not because the visuals are more impressive than usual. It's better because it offers something seldom found in one of these giant screen films: inspiration. The documentary underscores the values of optimism, tenacity, self-reliance and courage in the face of overwhelming adversity.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.