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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
    English, English - Hearing Impaired, Hindi
  • 3 Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary
  • 4 Featurette
  • Animated menus

The Endurance

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 94 mins . G . PAL


I knew who Shackleton was, of course, but didn’t know much about his three fateful trips to the Antarctic. The adventure covered herein is his third and final journey to Antarctica and, as history records, ends astonishingly. Told with some beautiful cinematography and fascinating research, I was rivetted for the entire 94 minutes this doco ran.

Covering everything from Shackleton’s now famous job advertisement for the trip to the eventual finalé of the expedition, this is simply mesmerising stuff. Every time something goes wrong, clever thinking and decisive leadership win out, but then something even worse comes along. And this happens time after time! It’s an incredible story and one told brilliantly by filmmaker George Butler, based on the book by Caroline Alexander.

Containing recent interviews with surviving family members (children mostly), the story is put together piece by piece as we are introduced to Shackleton’s character, his crew and his ill-fated ship. Some genuinely touching reflections and old original film and photographic records help bring this old story (it occurred in 1914) into the contemporary in fine style. Some clever use of still photos utilising pans and zooms help maintain the interest, though the heroism of the story is usually fuel enough. This is an incredible story that in part features one of the greatest navigational events of all time (a whole story in itself). This is truly excellent viewing and the disc itself is loaded with plenty of extras to fill out this amazing story of survival against the greatest of adversities.


Using ancient footage and modern film stock, naturally the film jumps and leaps between qualities. However, the older footage used is perfectly acceptable under the circumstances, particularly when we learn how much of it was abandoned in Antarctica in 1914. There are naturally grainy bits and garbage all over it, but this suits the dire situation the adventurers were in. Rather than just play it in crappy old black and white, the filmmakers have used a bunch of different filters over it to add a little something and this works well in itself.

Flicking between 1.85:1 with recent footage and 4:3 for the older stuff, the picture does fluctuate a bit, but we soon get used to that and, by film’s end, I was so engrossed in wanting to know how this wrapped up that I didn’t even notice. The recent footage is all just great, with flesh tones even, colours balanced and shadow detail prevalent.


Michael Small has created a beautiful soundtrack score to accompany the amazing images of the documentary and it is simply perfect. Filled with mournful violins and operatic accents, it generates the atmosphere of the frozen wastes in awesome fashion.

Dialogue is all crisp and well spoken by Liam Neeson as narrator and the various descendants interviewed for the film. Delivered in bristling Dolby Digital 5.1, there are some amazing sound effects used in this film that are simply spectacular. Mighty ice cracking noises and hull timbers creaking and stuff like that are just bang on all around. Their delivery truly adds weight to the dialogue and limited archival footage and photos. Impressive sound that furnishes the video very stylishly.


There’s a dynamic collection of worthy additions here that almost add up to another film. Firstly, there are some nice mildly animated menus to guide us on the perilous journey through Extrarctica.

A director’s commentary is just as interesting as the film and almost makes for a second (or is it third now?) film with the substantial amount of information about the making, the crew and the shoot itself. There is also an isolated score that is hauntingly beautiful as noted above, but it does have some hefty gaps in the playing. Still, it’s good stuff.

Beyond the Endurance features four featurettes that add up to a total of just under an hour’s viewing. These are:

  • The Tale of the Endurance: Which is insights from the author as she discusses the Endurance and the circumstances leading up to its demise. It’s mostly the same story as the film, but worthy nonetheless. Runs for 16:31.

  • In the Wake of the Endurance: This is basically the making of the film and features an optional commentary by the director. Runs for 17:14.

  • Iconic Images: A modern interview with Frank Hurley’s daughters. Hurley was the Endurance photographer and Adelie and Toni Mooy discuss his pictures and the man he was. Runs for 11:47.

  • Past and Present: This covers the 1999 exhibition of surviving artefacts and photographs from the ship. The author and interviewees are all present and this is very interesting, particularly if viewed after watching the film.

Finally a bunch of trailers fill out the disc. These are for The Endurance at 1.78:1 and 16:9 enhanced, The Age of Innocence runs for 2:18 at 4:3 and Sense and Sensibility in 1.85:1 with 16:9 enhancement.

A series of big ice floes there that drifts well in the Extrarctica section and adds a good deal to the value of the DVD.


As far as documentaries go, this one is simply stunning with some truly awesome images of the last untouched continent on Earth. Well researched and told with objectivity, this is both vastly entertaining and awe-inspiring at the strength of the human ambition to explore the unknown and survive against impossible odds. Brilliant stuff.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3150
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      And I quote...
    "The last untouched continent on Earth as we’ve never seen it, through the eyes of people who lived it. Amazing."
    - Jules Faber
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