South is the extraordinary chronicle of one of history's greatest epics of courage and leadership. In 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton embarked on an expedition to cross Antarctica via the South Pole. Before it could reach shor... more »e, the explorer's ship, Endurance, was trapped in an ice pack, held frozen in a sea of icebergs for eight months and finally crushed. After five months adrift on ice floes, the crew embarked on a perilous sea voyage to rocky, windswept Elephant Island. From there, Shackleton led five of his men on a miraculous 850-mile journey across unimaginably dangerous seas in a small open boat to get help from a whaling station in South Georgia. The explorer made three failed rescue attempts for the rest of the crew before finally succeeding--nearly two years after first setting sail. Frank Hurley, a veteran cinematographer and member of the Endurance crew, shot this beautiful and moving film as their incredible adventure unfolded.« less
"The excellent Milestone DVD transfer of "South--Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance expedition" is a must for students and collectors of early documentary film and photography.Frank Hurley (1885-1962), an Australian, was one of the greatest expedition photographers of the early 20th century--tough, resourceful, energetic and, in his early career at least, creative and innovative. He had not long accompanied Mawson's 1911-13 expedition to Antarctica when he received Shackleton's invitation to join his 1914 attempt to cross Antarctica via the South Pole. Hurley dropped what he was doing on an expedition in northern Australia and sailed to Buenos Aires, arriving just a few days before Shackleton's ship, "Endurance". Hurley's subsequent film showing Shackleton's superhuman effort to save his crew when the expedition failed was one of its few successes.The rest of Hurley's career deserves a quick once-over to properly locate him in the photographic pantheon. In 1917 Hurley enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force as an official photographer. One of his most creative and controversial First World War still pictures was a composite of an Australian infantry attack at Zonnebeke, Belgium, printed 6.5 by 4.5 metres from 12 different plates. His later activity included photographing an expedition to Papua, and filming the cavalry charge in Charles Chauvel's 1940 movie, "Forty Thousand Horsemen". In the early years of the Second World War, he headed the Australian Department of Information Cinematographic and Photographic Unit in the Middle East (as boss of those "whippersnappers", Damien Parer and George Silk--representing a new generation of photographic innovators who were starting to leave Hurley behind). In 1943 Hurley became director of the British Army Features and Propaganda Films Unit, making films such as "Siege of Tobruk".The documentary on the 1914-1916 Shackleton expedition, showing the ship, "Endurance", crushed and sinking after being trapped in pack ice for eight months, is the work of Hurley at the height of his powers, achieved under extraordinary difficulties. The DVD transfer has been made from a 35mm print restored by the British Film Institute National Film & Television Archive. Its audio options include a modern voice-over commentary, and a well-chosen piano accompaniment. I hope we see more such classic documentary DVD releases."
A Rare Cinematographic Documentary of a Legendary Journey
Carole-Terese Naser | Wellesley, MA | 02/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So spoiled are we in these days of cinematographic special effects that we cannot sometimes appreciate and recognize a landmark piece of film footage when we see it. This rare film documentary has been reproduced in original form, and in keeping it so, much credit goes to Brenda Hudson and the British Film Institute. To have portions of Shackleton's legendary journey on film speaks volumes about the brilliance of Shackleton's entrepreneurial mindset, in understanding the marketing/financial effect such a film would have upon his return. One must be reminded that the Endurance crew hauled and sailed this very film many tough miles, even as they starved, froze, lost hope and even went mad. Frank Hurley was a photography genius and a fearless soul, and he kept the cameras rolling as long as possible. Here is actual film of Ernest Shackleton the man - for that reason alone the film is priceless. The footage of the Endurance being crushed in the ice while sled dogs look on...well, it is an eerie experience to watch that pivotal event on film. The footage ends after the Endurance is crushed, because Shackleton attempted to move the men and camp shortly thereafter and they had to travel light. So the moving camera and film equipment, plus most of the glass still photo plates, were purposely thrown into the water to sink - so that Hurley wouldn't be tempted to go back for them. He kept only a small camera thereafter. I can only imagine his thoughts regarding that sacrifice. All the more precious this film becomes, then, for the extra care taken to carry it along. Hurley added the "national geographic" wildlife parts later, and even those sections, though somewhat unrelated to the essential film, reveal the fascination with Antarctic life of the times. I'd suggest turning down (way down) the volume when viewing the film, for although the background music is reminiscent of the times, it simply is not commensurate with the caliber of the film. This is an amazing film, by any standard."
I feel lucky this footage from the expedtion was available.
Carole-Terese Naser | 08/19/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not your typical follow-the-plot-to-the-climax kind of movie, this is a documentary filming of what was to be the first traverse of the Antartic continent in 1915, but which turned into a desperate struggle to survive on the ice pack when their ship became stuck and sank. How fantastic it was that Sir Shackleton thought to have Frank Hurley join him on this expedition because his camera work in such terrible conditions lets the viewer feel what the 28 men endured. I had read Caroline Alexander's book, "Endurance" first, and thought that this story would make a great movie so I went looking. Well, no drama could take the place of the actual footage from the expedition seen in this documentary. It is spellbinding. Lack of the men's voices (it is the 1910's after all) and lack of narration is no impediment, the pictures tell the story well enough, and the piano soundtrack just adds to the feeling of time gone by. Truly an achievement, both the ultimate survival of all of the men, and the recording of it on this tape."
Amazing film footage of an amzing story.
sjm | Chicago, IL | 08/20/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you've read any books on the "Endurance", it's quite wonderful to actually see the Hurley film. It's one thing to read about this great adventure, it's another to actually see it. I would recommend this to anyone interested in this era."
South:Shackleton and the Endurance
An 11-year old viewer | Bend, OR USA | 11/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"South is a wonderful video featuring real motion footage from Frank Hurley's cameras on the expedition. Even though there is no sound they added words and nice piano music in the backround. The video features everything from pictures of their departure, to picture of the dogs on deck, to pictures of the ship being crushed, falling apart, and its final sinking. This film shows the truth of what really happened. I highly recomend this film."