South DVD review

Film / Video Reviews
South DVD review
Dec 17, 2006, 05:32

SOUTH: ERNEST SHACKLETON AND THE ENDURANCE EXPEDITION (1919) directed by Frank Hurley; Image Entertainment, 2000

Sinking ships on stormy seas always seem to find a safe port in Hollywood. The story of the H.M.S. Endurance is the exception. In 1914, explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton led an expedition to Antarctica when the ship became trapped and subsequently crushed in an ice formation. Shackleton and crew escaped, only to embark on an even more perilous journey: For two years, they drifted on ice floes and small boats until they were rescued.

Just as amazing as the story is the fact that Hollywood has yet to turn it into a natural disaster blockbuster. The only film of the trip is still the original footage, shot by a photographer who accompanied Shackleton. It's just as well. South, originally released in 1919 and reissued 2000, offers as much drama as The Perfect Storm, The Poseidon Adventure and a hundred Tidy Bowl commercials—combined. Unlike those big-budget romantic yarns, this silent film is gritty and sparse. It shows heroism not as some grand gesture atop a crashing wave, but rather as an act of endurance—over days, weeks, months.

-John Petkovic

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