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Movie Review: The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antartic Expedition

Story: This is the perfect film for our besieged times. It is about heroes, heroics, survival and fortitude. It is the well known, often told story of Ernest Shackleton's 1914 foray to Antarctica. He had been bested two times before this exploration in his quest to reach the South Pole first and so he embarked on a trek to be the first to walk across the 1500 miles of land mass called Antarctica. His expeditions' misfortune represents what I see as an almost 'anti-Midas' touch of luck. If something could go wrong, it usually did.

Two years ago, the American Museum of Natural History in NYC had a fabulous exhibition on this subject complete with a full size reproduction of one of the life boats that was employed in this amazing feat of exploration. The book, The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition, by Caroline Alexander, who co-curated the Museum's exhibit is also credited with writing this film. Director and documentarian, George Butler (Pumping Iron) also made a 40 minute IMAX film on this subject. (Note: I can't watch most IMAX films -- they seem to make me feel nauseous.) This feature length gem of a film is worth your time and money. It makes you feel good. I know that I needed the lift. Even though I knew exactly what was going to happen, I was riveted for the entire time.

Acting: There is no acting, it is a documentary. However, Liam Neesam, as the narrator is wonderful. I love to listen to his voice. The other voices are also strong.

Critters: Oh so many. Whales, seals, birds, sled dogs, puppies, a cat and many, many penguins. The chinstrap penguins were featured in the opening credits.

Food: Much talk of what they did and did not eat. The food pyramid was basically ignored.

Visual Art: Fabulous black and white photography miraculously managed to survive the original expedition. Those old photos combined with wonderful present day images of the landscape, which is virtually unchanged, make for quite a visual treat.

Blatant Product Placement: None. But I learned that Shackleton was a premier marketer. He pre-sold publication rights to his journals and photos to help to finance the adventure.

Soundtrack: Appropriate without being over the top.

Opening Titles: The previously mentioned penguins grabbed me right away.

Theater Audience: One wacko mumbler in the back, three very talkative people and me.

Squirm Scale: 4 - Some bad things happen to the dogs and cat. You don't see it, but you do hear about it.

Predictability Level: I knew the story so there were no surprises.

Oscar Worthy: Yes

Nit Picking: Nothing. (But bring a jacket - it gets very cold watching this film.)

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen please. But if you like survival films, you could rent one of my favorites, Alive.

Length: 90 good minutes.