George Butler's film, originally aired on PBS, remains true to Caroline Alexander's gripping book retracing the hellish Shackleton expedition to Antartica from 1914-16. When unusually cold conditions cause Shackleton's vessel "The Endurance" to freeze in an ice-cap more than halfway towards their target, a herculean struggle for survival begins. Butler skillfully blends period footage, diary entry readings, and interviews with descendants of the crew to evoke this astounding ordeal.
Smoothly narrated by Liam Neeson, this riveting documentary boils down a two year struggle against unforgiving elements and steep odds into a cogent and affecting 97 minute film. Butler gets us inside the enigmatic Shackleton himself, helping us understand how his sustained leadership through an increasingly hopeless situation made the difference between life and death. An incredible story, well-told.