is not a biopic of the great Anglo-Irish explorer but a dramatisation of the failed trans-Antarctic expedition of 1914-16. As written and directed by Charles (Longtitude
) Sturridge the production, filmed on real ice floes in Greenland, stays remarkably close to the facts, capturing the look of the surviving expedition photos of Frank Hurley (collected in the book South With Endurance
) with great fidelity. Kenneth Branagh makes no attempt at an authentic accent but otherwise gives a powerful impression of a most commanding personality. When the expedition ship Endurance became locked in the Antarctic ice Shackleton vowed to bring every man home alive, and against virtually impossible odds, including a 700-mile journey in an open boat through some of the worst seas in the world, he did just that. This superlative mini-series realises the story with production values and cinematography which would not disgrace a big-budget feature (Hurley's own 1919 documentary film can be seen on video in South
). Intense physical drama, strong performances and Adrian Johnston's fine score combine here to deeply moving effect, marred only a little by a rushed conclusion. With Roland Huntford, author of the definitive Shackleton biography
, as production advisor, this easily stands as the benchmark for all future comparable films. --Gary S Dalkin
Writer-director Charles Sturridge ('Longitude') presents his version of Sir Ernest Shackleton's epic South Pole adventure. Setting out in 1914, Shackleton (Kenneth Branagh) and his crew set sail for Antarctica, but get into trouble when their ship, the Endurance, becomes stuck in pack ice. Abandoning the doomed vessel, Shackleton then takes the only course of action available, and sets out on foot, determined to lead his ailing crew to safety.