Thursday, May 14, 2009

Antarctic Documentary: The Endurance Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition

I just finished watching The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition, which I rented through Netflix. I found the documentary pretty interesting. The documentary tells the story of Shackleton's Endurance expedition using original video footage, original photos from the expedition, new footage of similar scenes related to the expedition, and on screen recollections of the crew from some of their descendants . It is all blended together quite well, but it is a sort of dry version much like every other version of the Endurance (i.e. many of the books say pretty much the same things). It is definitely great for learning about the expedition if you have not already read a lot about it. The most interesting parts, though are the special features.

The special features include an audio commentary version done by Director George Butler, which is actually extremely boring and I usually enjoy all sorts of audio commentaries. Basically he is just reiterating the story and things said in the other special features with the movie playing behind, which really is not amazing enough to want to see more than once in many years. Anyways the Beyond the Endurance section of the special features does have some good featurettes.

One of the featurettes is called The Tale of the Endurance and is a telling of the story by Caroline Alexander, who has photo book about the expedition that this movie seems to follow very closely and I have read, which makes both the movie and this special features not all that unique seeming. This, though, is at least way more brief than the movie.

The second featurette is called In the Wake of Shackleton. This is actually a pretty good one about the filming the new footage for the documentary by going to South Georgia Island and the Antarctic.

The third featurette is called Iconic Images and is my favorite part of this DVD. It is mostly the twin daughters of Frank Hurley talking about their father, who documented the trip with photos and film. It is interesting to learn that his kids did not really know about the expedition until they were much older and that they used to play with their fathers film making it into smoke bombs.

The fourth and final featurette is called Past and Present. It is not as good as the third, but it is better than the actual movie. It is mostly footage of the descendants of the crew going through an exhibit on the Endurance for the first time in New York.

Overall I do recommend checking out this movie if you want to learn about the expedition and have not yet really familiar with the expedition, as it does offer a great in depth look at the expedition. However, only the special features add much new if you very familiar with the expedition. They almost make it worthwhile, though, and definitely help make it a worthwhile DVD for those only vaguely familiar with the expedition.

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