"Against All Odds"
What You Need To Know:
Although not enough attention is paid to the spiritual life of Shackleton and his men, ENDURANCE is extremely moral. Shackleton is seen as a servant leader who kept the morale of his team together against all odds. Misdeeds are quickly rebuked. Forgiveness is freely offered. ENDURANCE is a powerful G-rated movie. It deserves all the positive reviews it is getting
(BBB, C, L, V) Very strong moral worldview with very minor Christian element; 1 obscenity; threat of mutiny, constant natural disasters which are very fearsome including ice flow, crushed boat, severe frostbite, hurricane, sleet, snow, starvation, men forced to kill dogs & puppies, & suggested execution of mutineer; no sex; no nudity; and, no other objectionable elements.
Renowned explorer Ernest Shackleton was a born adventurer who had a childhood vision of exploring the poles. ENDURANCE: SHACKLETON’S LEGENDARY ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION is a fine documentary movie which focuses on Shackleton’s last great expedition to try to cross Antarctica in 1914. In the interest of saving his men, he had previously lost the race to the South Pole to the Norwegian explorer Amundsen. Considering his age, this expedition was his last chance.
The movie opens with the ad Shackleton put in British newspapers asking for men to join the expedition for “low wages,” “bitter cold,” “return doubtful,” and other such daunting warnings. Surprisingly, 5,000 men apply to go with him. He chose 27 and headed out in August 1914, just days before the beginning of World War I, the first tragedy of this expedition. His ship, The Endurance, sailed to the southernmost inhabitable island, South Georgia. When The Endurance finally got to the great bay in Antarctica on Dec. 5, the ice was too thick to reach the continent. The Endurance was frozen in the ice and eventually crushed.
Defeated in one goal, Shackleton’s new goal was to save his men at all costs. The movie portrays the harrowing tale of how he did that against tremendous obstacles, including mutiny, starvation, the worst kind of weather, and the destruction of many of their supplies.
ENDURANCE is an exciting documentary by George Butler. George Butler produced the highly successful theatrical documentary PUMPING IRON (1977) which made Arnold Swarzenegger a star. Using footage from the expedition, paintings, contemporary footage, and the tremendous voice talents of Liam Neeson of SCHINDLER’S LIST, George Butler creates an extremely exciting and captivating documentary with a you-are-there feel.
Regrettably, not much attention is paid to Shackleton’s spiritual life. Butler says that Shackleton later told the story that when three of them were hiking over the perilous mountains of South Georgia, there was a fourth man with them. One of the elderly descendents of the expedition team identifies this fourth man as God. There’s also one small reference to prayer, and Shackleton’s words that they had “seen God and his splendor.” Although there are no atheists in foxholes, for most of the movie, human ingenuity and endurance are seen as solutions to the problems the expedition team face, with no reference to prayer.
Even so, ENDURANCE is extremely moral. Shackleton is seen as a servant leader who kept the morale of his team together against all odds. Misdeeds are quickly rebuked. Forgiveness is freely offered. Mutiny is confronted and stopped. Moral threads run throughout and create a tremendous impression of the leadership abilities of Shackleton, leadership abilities which everyone should take to heart.
The tale of the this epic battle for survival has been told before. In fact, Frank Hurley, the expedition’s official photographer, turned his movie footage into a theatrical feature film which was released in 1919. Even so, this story becomes more compelling through repetition.
THE ENDURANCE is a powerful G-rated movie. It deserves all the positive reviews it is getting and should be shown to children as an example of the best in mankind.