The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition

Director: George Butler
Screenwriters: Caroline Alexander, Joseph Dorman

Institute History

  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival


Sir Ernest Shackleton's much publicized, ill-fated journey to Antarctica holds the key to an action/adventure story no less remarkable today than when it occurred some 80 years ago. He, along with a 27-man crew, battled frostbite, starvation, and hopelessness while they tried to rescue themselves from a drifting ice pack in the frigid Weddell Sea. A seasoned captain and explorer, Shackleton was prepared for a difficult voyage and had thought to bring the necessary provisions. Yet no one could have predicted the unfortunate circumstances the crew would face. Only one day's sail from their destination, the ship became wedged in the shifting ice, and there they would remain for 10 long, dark months.

Given the multitude of filmed rescues from expeditions and adventures today, it is astonishing how riveting this story remains. Largely due to the fact that there was no high-tech intervention possible, Shackleton and his men had to rely solely on their own resources, ingenuity, and sheer will to survive.

Filmed footage and still photographs exist of the entire voyage as Shackleton had enlisted a photographer named Frank Hurley to join the expedition. Expertly made, The Endurance combines this original footage of the voyage with new vibrant color photography of the monumental polar ice caps of the region. Interviews with direct descendants of the crew and historians and poignant diary accounts fill in the dramatic details of the arduous journey. Together these dramatic pieces construct an unparalleled story of constant struggle and unbridled courage.

— Lisa Viola

Screening Details

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