SHACKLETON: THE GREATEST STORY OF SURVIVAL
Directors: Bobbi Hansel and Caspar Mazzotti
Screenplay: Bobbi Hansel
Rupert Degus (voice of Shackleton)
Runtime: 90 mins.
Australian release date: 9 March 2023.
A hundred years ago, Antarctica was the last unexplored continent, an almost insurmountable challenge for anyone to reach, let alone investigate, which made it an irresistible destination for the courageous Anglo-Irish explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, a man who had travelled there in 1901 and again in 1907. In 1914, he set sail for the frozen southern land again with a crew of 27 equally intrepid men in a vessel aptly named the Endurance, only this time his plan was to reach the South Pole. Famously, however, he never made it and the ship became trapped in sea ice in the frozen Weddell Sea, hundreds of kilometres from land. After spending nine months locked in the ice, the ship was crushed, damaged beyond repair, forcing the crew into a desperate battle to survive. Camping on the floating ice, they had to exist on reduced rations and lice-riddled seals and penguins, the ice beneath them slowly melting. They even had to shoot their sled-dogs. Shackleton, realising his dream of going to the Pole was over, now had to turn his hand to figuring out a way for he and his men to get to safety and return to civilisation. How he did it is revealed in Bobbi Hansel and Caspar Mazzotti’s fascinating documentary Shackleton: The Greatest Story of Survival.
Hansel’s screenplay of the film is a meticulously researched account of this perilous journey, told with the on-camera help of Australian adventurer Tim Jarvis, a man as fearless as Shackleton was and who recreated his voyage in 2013 using the same clothing, equipment and food that was available to the 19th century explorer. Thus, we get a first-hand insight into Shackleton’s ordeal. In telling the story, Hansel and Mazzotti have used footage from trips the crew made to Antarctica in 2018 and 2021, visiting the sites of the Endurance’s ill-fated expedition, the places Shackleton’s men camped and the locations Shackleton visited, combined with images taken on the original journey (by acclaimed Aussie photographer Frank Hurley) and footage recorded in a 2001 IMAX documentary about Antarctica. The narration, by Rupert Degus, who studied Shackleton’s voice and intonations from recorded interviews, provides authenticity to readings from his diaries and journals. The result is a thrilling film that puts the viewer on the ice with the great explorer and his men. You can almost smell the penguin colony!
See Shackleton: The Greatest Story of Survival at the cinema for the best dramatic effect. There will be a shorter, IMAX version as well, which promises to provide even greater thrills.