Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure: A Giant-Screen Film black alignment spacer
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Film Reviews
Reenactment image of Frank Hurley with camera

It's a compelling story, made all the more enjoyable by the skills of two men: Frank Hurley, Shackleton's photographer and cinematographer, and Reed Smoot, the movie's director of photography. This is a gorgeous movie.

It's grand to witness an icy adventure from the safety of a warm theater seat.

Sheila Norman-Culp
Associated Press
Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Combining contemporary re-enactments with archival films and still photographs, the 40-minute movie is every bit as exciting as a commercial epic. As the film notes, with remarkable understatement, "There aren't many stories of human endurance that compare to this one."

The New York Times
Friday, February 9, 2001

This documentary retelling of the explorer Ernest Shackleton's astonishing, inspiring 1914-16 expedition may be the best IMAX film so far.

Fortunately director George Butler ... allows the amazing story of Shackleton and his 27 men (their ship trapped and crushed by the ice pack) and their impossible survival in one of the harshest environments in the world, to work its own magic.

It helps tremendously that he's able to use stunning original footage from the expedition and to combine it with spectacular IMAX shots of the same locations today.

Even if you are familiar with this classic true tale of leadership, courage and endurance, this film gives you a sense of the physical beauty of the place that drew men like Shackleton and the ill-fated Captain Scott at the end of the era of exploration.

New York Post
Friday, February 9, 2001

What happened next, as chronicled in the handsomely wrought IMAX documentary "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure," is a tale of hardship, suffering and hairbreadth escape from total calamity.

... the film wastes no time in using IMAX technology to make you feel as if you're plowing through acres of thick ice and squeezing around imposing glacial towers. The narrative is tightly controlled, the re-creations are unobtrusive and scrupulous.

Gene Seymour
New York Newsday
Friday, February 9, 2001

Moviegoers can practically feel the cold wind on their faces as Shackleton and his men brave the extreme weather conditions to go where no man has gone before the early part of the century.

The film succeeds in showing how difficult life was for the men, who miraculously lived to tell the tale of living in one of the coldest and inhospitable places on Earth, with little hope of any rescue for 497 days.

The IMAX film shows the Antarctica that most people will never see, a place "of wild unearthly beauty."

Alison Freeman
The Star Ledger (New Jersey)
Friday, February 9, 2001

With all due respect to the members of Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 Antarctic expedition, the creators of this new IMAX feature are of uncommonly hardy stock themselves.

If Hollywood were telling this tale it would have been filmed at some cushy location, with special effects added later to harshen the look. But Adventure's intrepid filmmakers dispatched a band of shivering stand-ins and three renowned mountain climbers to retrace Shackleton's route. The viewer is also treated to 35mm footage of the original party, shot by The Endurance photographer and the director of South, Frank Hurley. And Adventure DP Reed Smoot captures gorgeous shots of churning seas and snow-buried plains, and of elaborate natural ice formations that would put Superman's arctic hideaway to shame.

... I found it refreshing to spend time with undiminished heroes ­ surely we consume enough true-story awfulness in the reality and behind-the-scenes programming constantly (dis)gracing television. The IMAX format is uniquely capable of awing and inspiring, and on both counts, Adventure triumphs

Nicole Keeter
Time Out New York
February 15-22, 2001

There's an inherent risk in billing any Robinson Crusoe yarn devoid of tribal councils or empathetic volleyballs as "the greatest survival story of all time." The tale of Sir Ernest Shackleton, though, is a pretty safe bet: In relating the British explorer's fortitude amid absurdly brutal setbacks on his 1914 expedition to Antarctica, this IMAX treatment quells its tag line's hyperbolic tang. ...the film's broad strokes (looming Antarctic seascapes, on-site reenactments) potently suggest the magnitude of the adventurer and his crew's perseverance.

... some of the IMAX movie's strongest moments superimpose Hurley's quietly devastating work (gorgeous in 70mm) over fluid new footage, juxtapositions that both elide and accentuate the expedition's scope and hardships.

Nick Rutigliano
Village Voice
Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Few moviegoing experiences will offer as cathartic and extraordinary a journey as one finds in "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure," the true story of the ill-fated expedition to the South Pole in 1914 led by British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.

The film... offers stunning footage of the mountainous, icy terrain of the Antarctic mixed with archival film shot during the expedition, and a well-done reenactment by the production team. The combination of live-action and documentary material absorbs the viewer into the harrowing conditions that turned the Shackleton expedition and rescue mission into one of the most extraordinary survival stories of all time.

In the film, world-class mountain climbers Conrad Anker, Reinhold Messner, and Stephen Venables, using state-of-the-art equipment, reenact Shackleton's trek. Their feat puts Shackleton's ­ done with one map, no equipment, and threadbare clothing ­ into powerful perspective.

The reenactment footage in the film is extraordinary, matching the epic nature of this amazing story. One cannot help but wonder why Hollywood has not caught up with the Shackleton tale; it certainly is every bit as inspiring as the survival documented in the fishing boat disaster at the center of "A Perfect Storm." "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure" is a major accomplishment, an all-around exhilarating and dynamic experience suitable for young and old.

Loren King
Boston Globe
Friday February 16, 2001

Spare us "Survivor." This is the real deal.

Hurley's work is skillfully interwoven with new footage taken on expeditions to where the events took place. And facing the huge Omnimax screen, you feel swallowed up in the same way Shackleton's crew must have felt swallowed by the vast Antarctic emptiness. You get a compelling gut-level sense of what those men were up against as the camera swoops and curls through a sea of floating icebergs. For those already hooked on the Endurance saga, seeing the actual locations here is a bit emotional.

... "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure" is a must-see for anyone already hooked on this story, and a good starting point for everyone else.

Boston Herald
Friday February 16, 2001

"Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure," a 40-minute Imax-format pic, more than compensates for its inevitable compression and simplification with panoramic views of harshly beautiful Arctic icescapes that are, quite literally, awesome.

Drawing upon the diaries of crew members and the extraordinary still photos and movies shot by legendary photographer Frank Hurley, "Adventure" offers a concise but fascinating account of day-to-day life aboard the immobilized ship.

Cunningly exploiting the dimensions of the Imax screen, Butler lucidly underscores the terrible isolation and elemental forces faced by the ill-fated explorers. Occasionally, Butler inserts snippets of Hurley's meticulously preserved footage (recently seen in the resurrected docu "South") within the much larger frame, in effect "positioning" Shackleton and his men in the middle of the Arctic desolation. New footage by Reed Smoot and David Douglas is sensational.

Butler also incorporates footage of three modern-day mountaineers -- Reinhold Messner, Stephen Venables and Conrad Anker -- who retrace the route across mountains and glaciers taken by Shackleton and his men, who landed on the wrong side of South Georgia Island. Natch, the contemporary adventurers are much better equipped, which only serves to increase their respect, and the audience's regard, for Shackleton's accomplishments.

Despite its brevity, "Adventure" vividly conveys the character and courage of Shackleton, one of the last great champions of the Heroic Age of Adventure.

Joe Leydon
Monday, March 5, 2001

This is a good little documentary forging together re-enactments, historical footage and presented in the style of Victorian romanticism with which Shackleton himself would have been received upon his return.  That of British stoicism in the face of adversity, man conquering nature through sheer strength, determination, and the force of character.
Online review,
Auckland, NZ

...with the best re-enactments of any IMAX film so far, [Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure] gives viewers a true 'you-are-there' experience... And what a there it is.  In the giant-screen format, icebergs loom above you, or you swoop under their three-story-tall arches like a chilled sea gull.  As Shackleton's lifeboat sets sail in calm seas that turn into... a hurricane, you can feel yourself take the swells.  Kevin Spacey's narration captures the danger and the wonder.

Jackie Loohauis
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Friday, June 8, 2001

Unless it's crew photographer Frank Hurley's 1919 silent film South, it's hard to think that any of these projects will, as the British say, 'put us in the picture' any better than the stunning IMAX film Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure... From its explosive start to moving climax, this story of heroism and human endurance is filled with the unearthly beauty of sun-lit ice and polar seas... The aerial photography and reenactments provide a feeling for the human scale of these events, but the most startling images are the black-and-white stills and 35mm footage taken by the brilliant Hurley.

Jane Sumner
Dallas Morning News
Friday, February 9, 2001

Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure is a spectacular new IMAX film currently playing at the Science Place at Fair Park in Dallas... This is the best IMAX film I have seen since 'Everest,' and is as inspiring as it is informative.  It's amazing what humans can do when put to the test.

Film Critic's Review
WFAA-TV, Channel 8, Dallas

The NOVA big-screen production nicely blends the chilling black-and-white stills and motion pictures taken by expedition photographer Frank Hurley with dramatic vistas of Antarctica taken during two NOVA filming expeditions in 1999 and 2000.

David Lore
Columbus Dispatch
Saturday, June 16, 2001

After a long series of IMAX films... that only proved bigger was not in fact better, we finally get one that reminds us what made the IMAX process so great to begin with. It not only has the ability to show us what we would otherwise never see, it can use its enormity to help us comprehend the incomprehensible.

... Filmed in the locations where these incredible events occurred and judiciously employing re-creations to illustrate their horror and heroism, "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure" is the kind of story IMAX was invented to tell.

...At the risk of spoiling the ending, "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure" easily convinces us that this was one of the most monumental challenges of endurance ever accomplished.

The reenactments, accompanied by readings of diary entries by [expedition photogapher Frank] Hurley, Capt. Frank Worsley and other members of the expedition, have been beautifully filmed by Reed Smoot and David Douglas and are supplemented by Hurley's original 35mm film, recently restored by the British Film Institute.

Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
Friday, June 22, 2001

...haunting and thoroughly involving ... up there with "Everest" as one of the best IMAX movies so far.
[**** rating]

Melbourne Herald Sun (Australia)
Thursday, November 1, 2001

...a vivid, vibrantly heroic portrait of triumph in the face of extreme of the best IMAX movies so far.
[**** rating]

Melbourne Herald Sun (Australia)
Thursday, November 1, 2001

...this is an unforgettable experience that impacts profoundly...

Urbancinefile (Australian web site)
Thursday, November 1, 2001 of the best IMAX films we've seen: up there with "Everest" and "Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man."

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Thursday, November 1, 2001

This film is mesmerising. It's what cinema should be about—life, endurance and the spirit of humanity.

3D World (Australia)
Thursday, November 1, 2001 extraordinary story... one of the best and most interesting IMAX productions.
[**** rating]

The Age (Australia)
Thursday, November 1, 2001

A stirring adventure given stirring treatment...
[**** rating]

Sydney Sunday Telegraph (Australia)
Sunday, November 4, 2001

This is a film that broadens the definition of what a hero is and does, and it is well-suited for anyone in search of a grand, if vicarious , adventure.

John Petrakis
Chicago Tribune
Friday, November 9, 2001

...this epic of the impossible is a triumph of human forbearance that truly does beggar belief.
[B+ rating]

Who Weekly (Australia)
Friday, November 9, 2001

"Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure" is a rip-roaring story which should knock the socks off every viewer.

Sydney Sun Herald (Australia)
Sunday, November 11, 2001

When Endurance sank, Hurley dived into freezing water to salvage his glass-plate negatives. As a result, modern audiences can be eyewitnesses to one of the most amazing stories of the 20th century. "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure" is a tale of courage and resiliency that, coincidentally, has great meaning after the events of Sept. 11... However, the IMAX film includes a heart-stopping irony that didn't exist before Sept. 11. End credits note that "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure" is presented by Morgan Stanley investment group. A statement from Morgan Stanley managing director Ray O'Rourke notes: "The story of Shackleton and his crew is about caring leadership, teamwork, commitment to a goal, and hope and optimism in the face of enormous adversity." Before Sept.11, that would have been just another corporate sponsorship that moviegoers wouldn't notice much. But Morgan Stanley had offices in the World Trade Center. Six of the firm's employees died on the day America's resolve was born.

Steve Persall
St. Petersburg Times
Friday, November 16, 2001

The expanse of frigid sea, with icebergs and ice floes looming in the darkness to suggest the danger of an icy death, in Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure, the finest IMAX film yet.

from 2001's Memorable Movie Moments
John Petrakis
Chicago Tribune
January 18, 2002
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About the Film
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Film Summary
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Behind the Scenes
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Dramatic Reenactments
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The Climbers: Messner, Venables, Anker
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Film Reviews
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Sir Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition
Shackleton's Leadership Role
About Antarctica and the Subantarctic
Where to See the Film
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Photo Credits: © 2001 WGBH and White Mountain Films, LLC, Photo: Reed Smoot

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