Ernest Shackleton's incredible expedition

Critic's choice: Video

September 12, 1999|By Chris Kaltenbach

Eighty-five years ago, a 28-man expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton set off to cross Antarctica and reach the South Pole. But ice soon surrounded and trapped the ship, stranding the men and leaving them with little to do but count the days until the end. Incredibly, that's not how things turned out. After abandoning their boat, the expedition eventually made it to desolate Elephant Island, where most of the men remained while Shackleton and five others sailed across 850 miles of sea in a small open boat to a remote whaling camp. Almost two years later, after three unsuccessful rescue attempts, the remainder of his party was brought back to civilization. "Not a life lost and we have been through Hell," Shackleton wrote to his wife, understating the case. Amazingly, parts of the expedition were filmed by cinematographer Frank Hurley, who set out to chronicle the South Pole trek and ended up capturing an unrivaled feat of human endurance. The resulting film, "South," was released in 1919 and accompanied Shackleton and Hurley on their lecture tours, but has been rarely seen since. Thanks to the fine folks at Milestone Film & Video, "South: Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition," replicating the lecture experience as closely as possible, is now available. Priced at $29.95, the film can be ordered by calling 800-603-1104.

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