Film: Video Watch

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The Independent Culture
South, available to buy pounds 15.99

AS ENDURANCE, Sir Ernest Shackleton's exploration ship, foundered in the unforgiving pack-ice of the Antarctic in 1915, expedition photographer Frank Hurley threw himself into the submerged hold to retrieve his photographic plates and rolls of film. Thank goodness he did. Beautifully restored by the National Film and Television Archive, Hurley's account of Shackleton's ill-fated attempt to cross Antarctica is epic stuff.

The film is presented as audiences 80 years ago would have seen it, complete with heroic commentary and stirring piano accompaniment. The image many still associate with Shackleton - Endurance locked in the ice - is as iconic as ever. Hurley's record details its tortuous destruction in expressionistic grandeur. There are touching on-board scenes of the dogs being tended to - in fact, with most of the men well wrapped up, it's the dogs and pups who are the real characters here. Film of the expedition itself ends abruptly, as the explorers' predicament deepened and Shackleton undertook his 800-mile sea-journey.

Included, however, are Hurley's less revealing but still delightful films of South Georgia wildlife: elephant seals, penguins and albatrosses.

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