An important and valuable message has been received from John Atkins:
Members and Shackleton enthusiasts may want to know that two of the four parts of the in many resepects brilliant 1983 BBC2 TV drama Shackleton, written and directed by Christopher Ralling (and previously mentioned on the JCS website), have now been posted on YouTube.
They are: Episode 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16RmWaHYFrk
and Episode 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iotptQeXCs4
John asserts, 'This Shackleton series from the early 1980s is first class in so many ways it really ought to be released on DVD, especially as the same production team’s The Voyage of Charles Darwin (1978) has recently been released to acclaim.'
The striking new hour-long film Frank Wild: Antarctica's Forgotten Hero, presented by Paul Rose and produced by Paul Greenan, will be shown on BBC 2 on Sunday 22 April at 7.00 p.m., and will be available on BBC i-Player for a week thereafter.
This edited film grippingly evokes the stark atmosphere facing Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men as they faced up to the darkness and icy temperatures of a polar winter, and doubts about how they would get home at all.
Among those interviewed in the first section are McNish's and Orde-Lees' grandsons; there are some striking moving sequences from Hurley's filming, close-ups of members of the crew (including Hurley himself), extended sequences featuring the dogs, and comments from Roland Huntford, Peter Wordie and South Georgia historian Tim Carr.
Even Mrs. Chippy, McNish's cat, features, along with the story that she once fell overboard and had to be retrieved by the ship.
The film goes on to tell the full story of the Endurance expedition, with atmospheric filming of Antarctica, a first-rate narration and striking contributions from members of the crew, either speaking in retrospect or convincingly performed by actors. The techniques used even with still photos add much to the impact of the film, which is reproduced here in 11 sections, thus giving ease of access to different stages of the journey.
The story of the Endurance has found its way onto Youtube, the popular information sharing website.
An eight-minute well-narrated film covering the outward journey, the trapping of the ship and the crew's escape from the ice is gathered together in a sequence of black and white stills. The only drawbacks are a rather inadequate treatment of the boat journey and mountain crossing and some slightly overubiquitous Tchaikovsky music.
The film can be viewed following the link below:
On Tuesday 7th December at 1.30 pm BBC Radio 4 will be airing a documentary programme about Leonard Hussey's Banjo.
The documentary is entitled Vital Mental Medicine - Shackleton's Banjo, and is narrated by the folk musician Tim van Eyken.
The programme will be repeated on Radio 4 at 3.30 pm on Saturday 11th December and will also be available on BBC iPlayer for a week after the broadcast, till Saturday 18th December.
Tim van Eyken tells the story of how on the 1914-16 Imperial Transantarctic Expedition Sir Ernest Shackleton instructed that the banjo belonging to meteorologist Leonard Hussey (1891-1964), which had given much enjoyment during the time when the Endurance was trapped, be rescued from the ship when was crushed by pack ice and sank in 1915.
The musician explains how Shackleton hoped the lively music and entertainment provided by the instrument might help preserve the sanity of his stranded crew, and examines the life of Hussey, whose songs helped his fellow sailors keep their spirits up both when encamped on the ice and on Elephant Island, and ultimately to return home safely.
The successful launch and completion of the Shackleton Centenary Expedition (1909/2009) coincided with the launch of The Shackleton Foundation, which exists to support and encourage people who might not have the chance to reach their own Antarctic - especially those who are disadvantaged.
An introductory film was made to outline the aims of the Foundation.
On Saturday 4 April the BBC 'Timewatch' programme will focus on Sir Ernest Shackleton and his successors.
A century ago on his Nimrod expedition, Ernest Shackleton and his team of four made an attempt on the South Pole. In January 1909, just 98 miles from their destination, they turned back - and survived. Juyst two years later Roald Amundsen, the first to reach the South Pole, completed the journey. Captain Scott and his team, who made the journey only to discover they had been pipped to the post by the Norwegians, succeeded but died on the return.
This hour-long programme produced by Sean Smith traces the efforts of a team of Nimrod party descendants a century later to cross 900 miles of frozen wastelands and reeenact and complete Shackleton, Wild, Adams and Marshall's historic journey.
Lt. Col. Henry Worsley a distant relation of Shackleton's l;ater captain Frank Worsley; Henry Adams, 33, shipping lawyer, from Snape, Suffolk, great-grandson of Jameson Boyd-Adams, Shackleton's youthful number two on the Nimrod expedition; Will Gow, 35, city worker, from Ashford, Kent, and related to Shackleton by marriage Patrick Bergel, 36, from London, Shackleton's great-grandson, who works in advertising; Tim Fright, 24, from Billingshurst, West Sussex, great-great-nephew of Frank Wild, the only explorer to accompany Shackleton on all his missions. He works as a PA to Cobra Beer founder Lord Bilimoria. David Cornell, 38, from Andover, Hampshire, a City fund manager and another great-grandson of Jameson Boyd Adams;
Henry Worsley, Will Gow and Henry Adams left the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf on 29 October, as Shackleton and his team did a century earlier.
An interesting message has been received on the Forum from Giles Hobson, who draws attention to another important Shackleton film. He writes:
'Previous contributors to the Forum have made reference to the elusive 1982 BBC film, 'Shackleton' (a.k.a. 'Icebound in the Antarctic'). However, I have not [hitherto] been able to find a reference on the website to another BBC programme about Ernest Shackleton.
The film was originally broadcast in the UK in June 2000 as part of a three part series entitled 'Wilderness Men'. The drama documentary was called 'Shackleton - A Story of Survival' and featured the actor David Yelland in the title role. The other two episodes detailed the North American trade route pioneers, Lewis and Clark and the German naturalist and explorer, Alexander von Humboldt.
'At fifty minutes long it does not have the opportunity to expound at such length on the 'Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition' as, for example, George Butler's film, 'The Endurance'. Critics may submit that it skirts round some of the more insalubrious elements of the odyssey, such as Shackleton's confrontation with Harry McNeish.
However, to my mind, this is one of the finest programmes on Shackleton, with a very humane construal of the man by Yelland and some valuable contributions from, among others, Dr. Mike Stroud and the late Sir Edmund Hillary.
The series has recently been released on DVD in the USA; not under its original title of 'Wilderness Men' but buried under the label 'Lewis and Clark and Other Adventurers', in deference to the episode that will doubtless have greatest resonance with American viewers.
However, it is easily obtainable through various vendors in the UK. I have just received my copy via Amazon UK. It arrived from the USA in a fortnight and cost less than £10, including postage.
Please note that if you are interested in obtaining a copy, you will require a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV in order to be able watch it.
The French Shackleton exhibition 'Survivants des Glaces - Avec Shackleton vers le pôle Sud - 1914 - 1917'at the La Corderie Royale museum - Centre International de la Mer, Rochefort, Charente-Maritime (near La Rochelle), which runs from December 2006 to 30 June 2007, includes a short video about the Endurance expedition, using mostly Hurley stills, with splendidly presented atmospheric effects and a haunting commentary in French, which can be viewed online. See the full Feature further down this page; or to go straight to the video, click on the picture or on the link below:-
Inevitably the Endurance story in its various film versions has found its way onto the web, where it makes gripping viewing.
One of the best is to be found on YouTube, and appears to be drawn from 'The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Expedition' (2000). Here it is described as 'Endurance, Shackleton and the Antarctic'.
It is posted in several parts, mostly of 8-10 minutes, the URLS of which can be accessed below. The Ice formations in the early parts make an impressive start, but the quality of the narrative, quotes and selected images is top-notch throughout. Two of the prime interviewees are Shackleton's biographer Roland Huntford and Peter Wordie, son of James Wordie.
Shackleton's photographer Frank Hurley left behind a collection of striking and daring photographs. His most famous images are of Shackleton's Endurance expedition, but he also took remarkable photographs during World War I and in his native Australia.
Using extensive archive footage shot by Hurley, as well as many of his photographs, this one hour documentary, to be shown on BBC 4 on Monday 23 August 2004 (9pm-10pm, repeated at 12.10am-1.10am; 3.05am-4.05am), traces the photographer's life and work.
We return to the Antarctic with the photographer's twin daughters and also hear about the controversy surrounding some of his pictures.
Frank Hurley was born in Australia in 1885 and ran away from home when he was 14 to work on the docks. He bought his first camera when he was 17
He made six trips to the Antarctic, including the expedition led by Shackleton on the Endurance.
When the team, was forced to abandon the Endurance , Hurley had to leave behind 400 of his 520 glass negatives because they were so heavy.
After working as an official photographer on the Western Front during the Great War of 1914-18, Hurley travelled to Palestine to film the Australian troops.
Following his anthropological film Pearls and Savages, Hurley faced charges of having exploited the people of New Guinea. His star dimmed further as he made a couple of lacklustre feature films, including The Jungle Woman in 1926.
Towards the end of his life Hurley returned to Australia and made his name once more as a pictorial photographer.
He died in Australia in 1962.
Among a number of websites containing a large amount of well-researched information on Shackleton's life and achievements is the Channel4 Television Website.'
It focuses especially on his most famous expedition, the ill-fated voyage aboard Endurance in 1914-16, but also looks at earlier events in his life, examines many aspects of the Antartic and has a short section on Captain Scott, under whom Shackleton served in 1901-4 on his first Antarctic Expedition.
The website relates to a programme made some time ago, but almost all of the information is intriguing and still holds good.
The film Shackleton's Voyage of Endurance, a two-hour documentary made for the U.S. public television series WGBH/NOVA, won the ‘Emmy’ Award for Best Historical Documentary at the awards ceremony in New York in September 2003.
Antarctica, a multivision-slide show, recently launched a tour of 43 cities and towns of Switzerland, sponsored by Quark Expeditions.
The show, which started in Zurich at the end of September 2001, is the work of photographer Heiner Kubny, whose hobby developed into a passion after he took part in five expeditions to Antarctica. Out of his desire to share the beauty he encountered there, the Antarctica multivision-slide show was put together, featuring original music and German narration. The show moves around Switzerland until February 2002, finishing in St. Gallen; if successful, there are plans to export the show to other European countries.
The well-received documentary on Shackleton Endurance : Shackleton and the Antarctic, filmed by George Butler, based on the book by Caroline Alexander, written by Joseph Dorman and Jeremy Evans, with major contributions from his biographer Ronald Huntford and James Wordie's son Peter, was repeated on UK Channel 4 Television on 12 January 2002 (it was previously shown in November 2000).
Endurance : Shackleton and the Antarctic is a White Mountain Films/Nova Co-production in Association with Telepool Germany, SVT Sweden, Discovery International, The American Museum of Natural History, Zegrahm Expeditions and Shackleton Schools.
George Butler's new 93 minute film The Endurance : Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition, a White Mountains Film distributed by WGBH Enterprises/Giant Screen Films (USA/worldwide) / Cowboy Booking International (North America), was released in North America on 5 October 2001. Produced by Edward R.Pressman and Terence Malick, written by Joseph Dorman, with advice from Shackleton's biographer and James Caird Society member Caroline Alexander.
Shackleton, an epic two-part, four-hour-long drama starring Kenneth Branagh and written and directed by the acclaimed, BAFTA award-winning director Charles Sturridge (who also directed Longitude and won international praise for his Granada adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited) received its US premiere on Sunday April 7th (8:00-10:00pm EST) and Monday April 8th 2002 (9:00-11:00pm EST) on A&E Television Network and its UK premiere on Channel 4 Television on Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd January 2002.
Paid up subscribers to The Times archive can read Erica Wagner's preview and Jo Joseph's review of the film at The Times online.
Shackleton, directed by Charles Sturridge, stars Branagh in a stirring performance as Sir Ernest Shackleton, with Matt Day (Hurley), Pip Torrens (McIlroy), Phoebe Nicolls (Emily Shackleton), Ken Drury (Thomas McNish), Lorcan Cranitch (Shackleton's deputy, Frank Wild), Kevin McNally (New Zealand skipper Frank Worsley), Nicolas Rowe (Thomas Orde-Lees), Rick Warden (John Vincent), Robert Hardy (Sir James Caird), Corin Redgrave (Lord Curzon) and Elizabeth Spriggs (Dame Janet Stancomb-Wills). The film has been widely acclaimed, not least for the authenticity of its script and for Branagh's highly credible performance as Shackleton, 'The Boss'.
This four-hour drama focuses on Shackleton's abortive 1914 attempt to reach the South Pole, and his heroic efforts to save his ship and crew from the treacherous icy waters. As Sturridge tells it, this is not just a story of men against the white ice and sea but of the background of the expedition and the incredible qualities that allowed Shackleton to lead his men through the most extreme conditions, and bring them back alive.
Produced by Longitude's producer, Selwyn Roberts, for Sturridge's own company, Firstsight Films, Shackleton has taken over a year to bring to the screen. Basing it on public records, unpublished documents, ship's logs and original diaries of crew members as well as the published accounts of Shackleton and others, Sturridge also contacted 17 sets of relatives of the expedition members, who provided personal information and previously unknown documentation. He also received unprecedented co-operation from members of Shackleton's own family, including the James Caird Society's President, the Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, and from Shackleton's biographer, Roland Huntford.
The result is a momentous drama which begins in London in 1914 with Ernest Shackleton trying to raise funds for his expedition on the eve of the First World War - as well as struggling with a complex personal life and his brother's imprisonment for fraud - and ends on the frozen wastes of the Antarctic.
Filming took place over six months across London and on the sea-ice off Eastern Greenland, where the cast and crew spent nearly five weeks living on an ice-breaker filming the exterior Antarctic scenes. Sets were being built at Shepperton studios in England, including a replica of the Endurance's interior decks which were required to tilt 45 degrees and flood with water.
Sturridge says, 'This is a film about a man, his men and an incredible journey. Shackleton had to fight just to get finance for the expedition, and it was all happening at a time when he was also facing desperate problems in his private life. But in the Antarctic, against seemingly hopeless odds, he managed to keep his 27-man crew alive for two terrifying years, while millions of men were being sacrificed defending civilisation on the battlefields of France.
'He is, without doubt, one of the great leaders of all time'.
On Monday 3 December at 6.30 Kenneth Branagh and Charles Sturridge gave a lecture to fellows of the Royal Geographical Society entitled The Drama of Exploration.
The video of Shackleton is available for purchase (in US format) from the exclusive A&E Shackleton Shop. In addition to the movie on VHS and DVD, the shop features a wide variety of other Shackleton items, including books, t-shirts and hats, Frank Hurley posters, maps of Antarctica and more!
While offers last, spend $100 in the A&E Shackleton Shop and get a free oversized Shackleton map (retail value $25).
Ernest Shackleton : Kenneth Branagh
Emily Shackleton : Phoebe Nicholls
Frank Wild : Lorcan Cranitch
Frank Worsley : Kevin McNally
Tom Crean : Mark McGann
Dr. James McIlroy : Pip Torrens
Sir James Caird : Robert Hardy
Lord Curzon : Corin Redgrave
King George V : Rupert Frazer
Dudley Docker : Mark Williams
Dame Janet Stancomb-Wills : Elizabeth Spriggs
Meteorologist Leonard Hussey : Christian Steel
Photographer Frank Hurley : Matt Day
George Marston : Chris Larkin
Thomas Hans Orde-Lees : Nicholas Rowe
Navigator Hubert Hudson : Shaun Dooley
Dr. Alex Macklin : Nicholas Hewetson
Ship's carpenter Harry McNish : Ken Drury
Seaman William Bakewell : Nigel Whitmey
Seaman John Vincent : Rick Warden
Expedition Cook Charles Green : Paul Bigley
Bakewell : Nigel Whitmey
Stowaway Perce Blackborow : Celyn Jones
Geologist James Wordie : Jamie Lee
Fireman Ernest Holness : Ian Mercer
Rosalind Chetwynd : Embeth Davidtz
Eleanor : Eve Best
Frank Shackleton : Mark Tandy
Perris : Danny Webb
Captain Thoralf : Rolf Arly Lund
Jacobsen : Sven Nordin
Sorlle : Bjorn Floberg
Kenneth Branagh has been appointed honorary president of the Northern Ireland Film Commission, the Belfast Telegraph reports. Ulster's best known film actor and director said that he was delighted to have taken on the role : "I relish the opportunity to make a contribution to the development of the film and television industry in Northern Ireland and to help promote Northern Ireland on the international stage," he said. Colin Anderson, chairman of the NIFC, said that Branagh "has a special place in the hearts of Northern Ireland people, who still talk about his earlier screen role in BBC Northern Ireland's The Billy Plays (1982) by Graham Reid."
Branagh, who recently appeared at London's Royal National Theatre, appeared to acclaim onstage in Shakespeare's Richard III at the Crucible, Sheffield during March and April 2002, and is to play Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in the second Harry Potter movie Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, released in November 2002.
Branagh's recent UK television appearance, as SS General Reinhard Heydrich in the BBC television drama Conspiracy, which coincided with his appearance on Channel 4 as Shackleton, and for which he won an Emmy Award, likewise earned him wide praise. A new recording of King Lear was issued on 21 January 2002 (Paul Scofield's 80th birthday). The recording, made 40 Years after Schofield's original stage triumph in the title tole, features Alec McCowen as Gloucester and Kenneth Branagh as the Fool.
The IMAX Film Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure, produced by White Mountain Films in conjunction with NOVA/WGBH (Boston) produced by WGBH/Nova (Boston), sponsored by the polar cruise experts Quark Expeditions and narrated by Kevin Spacey, mixes original Hurley footage with modern day re-enactments of the party's escape to Elephant Island and crossing of South Georgia to convey the drama of Shackleton's survival against all the odds.
The film opened in the presence of Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal on 18 October in London, at the British Film Institute's London IMAX Cinema, opposite Waterloo Station.
The IMAX cinema was packed and the showing was introduced by the Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, the explorer's granddaughter and President of the James Caird Society, by the film's Executive Producer, Susanne Simpson, and by Dr. John Heap, former Chairman of the Scott-Polar Research Institute and presently Chairman of the U.K. Antarctic Heritage Trust.
Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure, which has grossed over $4m in America since its release on 9 February 2001, has recently been seen at several IMAX cinemas throughout the US. These include the Mugar Omni Theater at the Museum of Science, Boston (New England premiere, sponsored by Mercury Computer Systems, Inc.), the Metro IMAX cinema, Detroit, the Humphrey IMAX Dome Theatre, Milwaukee and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver, Colorado. A massive success in America and the UK, where it has also been seen at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford, and at the IMAX Theatre At-Bristol, Anchor Road, Harbourside, Bristol, it is now being distributed to IMAX cinemas throughout the world.
Shackleton's dramatic bid to rescue his men marooned on Elephant Island. From the IMAX feature film Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure. Photos courtesy of WGBH/Nova
Stephen Venables' striking account of the mountain crossing can be read in the catalogue of the Dulwich Exhibition Shackleton, the Antarctic and Endurance.
Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure has also been seen in Germany (under the title Gefangen im Eis : Die Shackleton-Expedizion) at the Forum der Technik, Museuminsel 1, D-80538 München, Tel. +49 (0)89 211250, Fax +49 (0)89 21125120, email firstname.lastname@example.org
On 22 September at its 2001 conference held at the Navy Pier Grand Ballroom in St.Paul, Minnesota, the Giant Screen Theater Association proudly announced the winners of the Film and MAC (Marketing Achievement and Creativity) Awards 2001.
This year's awards for Best Film and Best Cinematography went to the IMAX film Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure (a co-production of White Mountain Films and NOVA/WGBH Boston).
GSTA headquarters is located in St. Paul, MN, USA. For more information on GSTA or the GSTA Achievement Awards, contact Mary Ann Henker, Executive Director, +1 (651) 292-9884.
The acclaimed UK Channel Four Television drama Shackleton, written and directed by Charles Sturridge, which cost an estimated £27m, is reputed to be the most expensive film ever made for Channel Four.
Branagh spent six weeks in the Antarctic to familiarise himself with conditions there in advance of filming. In a recent interview he admits to a fascination with the Antarctic explorers ever since he first saw John Mills playing Scott in the film Scott of the Antarctic. He also added to his already encyclopaedic knowledge of Shackleton by reading unpublished accounts of the Endurance expedition by members of the crew.
The Irish press reports that 'Belfast-born actor Kenneth Branagh has found love again while playing the role of Shackleton. The lady in question is art director Lindsey Brunnock. The pair met on the set of the $40m production of Channel 4's drama Shackleton. Lindsey is the actor's first love since his split with Helena Bonham Carter in September 1999 after five years together. Before that Branagh was married to the actress Emma Thompson.'
A planned new film about Shackleton, to be directed by the Hollywood-based German director Wolfgang Peterson, is either delayed or shelved.
Prior to the emergence of the Channel 4's Shackleton, the rumours were rife that Peterson, already in possession of dramatic heavy seas footage from The Perfect Storm, was all but ready to embark on thje project. At that time, available information on Peterson's projected film Endurance (Radiant / Columbia / Sony Pictures Entertainment) was that it would run for around 90 minutes and would have a screenplay by Jeff Maguire, Ronald Bass and Steve Zaillian (who scripted Schindler's List).
Names mentioned to star, at various times, have included Mel Gibson, George Clooney, Russell Crowe, Jeremy Northam and Clive Owen, but one website reports (July 2001) that Crowe was the candidate most favoured by Peterson, and has edged ahead of rival contenders.
However the speculation was premature : Peterson, already acclaimed also for In The Line of Fire, Airforce One, Outbreak (with Dustin Hoffman) and Das Boot, the terrifying serialised story of the tribulations of a German World War II Submarine, as well as The Perfect Storm, is currently preoccupied with a new project, a film based on Homer's Trojan story The Iliad.
With Byrd to the South Pole, an 82 minute feature film by Joseph Rucker and Willem van der Veer, was named one of the 10 best films of 1930 by the New York Times and won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.
Some 70 years later, this acclaimed documentary is being rediscovered by new audiences thanks to a stunning DVD transfer. The film follows Rear-Admiral Richard Byrd and his team at the Little America base in Antarctica from 1928-30, and includes footage of his spectacular first flight over the South Pole. Described as part publicity stunt and part scientific milestone, Byrd's achievements are generally taken to mark the end of the heroic period of Polar expeditions.
Byrd spent an Antarctic winter alone in an underground hut, and nearly died of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. He retailed the story in Alone (l938), which according to a recent review 'can get a little scientific at times, but is well worth reading.' Both Alone and To the South Pole, Byrd's diary and notebook of 1925-7, are available from Amazon.com.
Escape from Antarctica - On the Trail of Shackleton, a one hour film documentary commissioned by TG4, Ireland, was a finalist in the history documentary section at the "Worldfest" Television Festival, Arizona and the Celtic Film Festival. It records the story of Shackleton's escape from Antarctica in 1916 seen through the eyes of five Irish adventurers who set out to recreate the voyage of the James Caird and also Shackleton's famous traverse of South Georgia. The story is told using Frank Hurley's original archive footage combined with modern footage.
We're in the grip of polar mania. And a new film about Shackleton's 1915 expedition is as close as you'll get to being there, says Roderic Dunnett
The Independent, 29 October 2001
It hits you in the solar plexus. First, a deafening scrunch, then the blinding flash of a photographer's flare. Suddenly Britain's biggest cinema screen is flooded with the image of Ernest Shackleton's doomed ship, Endurance, crippled and frozen, berthed on its bed of polar ice, dazzlingly lit up and filmed in 1915 by the expedition's Australian photographer, Frank Hurley.
Seconds later you are airborne, winging towards a Technicolor modern Antarctica. Its vastness assails you : a bird's-eye view, like some polar Out of Africa. The effect is as startling as it is exhilarating.
Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure, which has just opened at the British Film Institute's London IMAX Cinema, is the first in a spate of new films about the polar explorer. Next January, Channel 4 plans to screen its two-part extravaganza Shackleton, starring Kenneth Branagh in the title role, Robert Hardy as Sir James Caird (after whom Shackleton's 23-foot escape vessel, the James Caird, was named), with Kevin McNally, Mark McGann, and Phoebe Nicolls as Emily Shackleton, the explorer's long-suffering wife. Charles Sturridge (of Longitude fame) will direct.
Two short movies about Shackleton are currently touring the United States, along with a larger-than-life Endurance exhibition. Meanwhile, Hollywood is agog to see when Wolfgang Petersen (who directed The Perfect Storm, Das Boot and In the Line of Fire) will size up to the challenge of Endurance, his projected Radiant/Columbia/Sony Pictures feature film, scripted by, among others, Steve Zaillian (who was Steven Spielberg's scriptwriter on Schindler's List).
With Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure, WGBH/Nova and IMAX have done the explorer proud. It is painstakingly accurate (one of the film's advisers was Shackleton's biographer Caroline Alexander), and what it lacks as scripted drama it makes up for in visual delights: Reed Smoot's photography, like Hurley's, is a feast.
Five thousand men volunteered for Shackleton's Endurance expedition. This film gives a sense of what those who didn't make it missed. Some of its most effective moments come from the juxtaposition of Frank Hurley's black and white/sepia original (meticulously restored over four years at the BFI's J.P.Getty Conservation Centre, and now available on VHS) with new colour wide-angle shots, filmed on location off South Georgia and Elephant Island. Huge floes seem to explode around you as the Endurance scythes through the ice, only (in January 1915) to become stuck fast. Nine months later, cruelly crushed, they abandoned ship. It was 27 October 1915. Endurance lasted four more weeks, then sank. Perhaps not for ever: plans are afoot to locate and recover her.
Shackleton was Anglo-Irish (cue Irish fiddle music: Sam Cardon's sentimental score feels more cliché-ridden than enlightening). But the constant hubbub of voices, barking of dogs and ice chunterings, abetted by Kevin Spacey's well-spoken narration (Michael Gambon speaks the words of Shackleton), constantly bring Hurley's professional footage alive. The mock-ups of their desultory bases at Ocean Camp (after a Hurley photo) and Patience Camp (from a Marston picture) are particularly effective. Unexpected faces keep peering out as if you'd bumped into them yesterday: "Chips" McNish, the carpenter who made the James Caird seaworthy and built (from the other two lifeboats) their stifling Elephant Island hut, nicknamed "The Ritz", and John Vincent (the expedition's two "bad" boys, whom Shackleton took on the perilous crossing but denied a polar medal for their truculence); or "Perce" Blackborow, the young stowaway, who should never have been there, and whom Shackleton famously promised to eat first of all in an emergency.
The film is never better than when the chips are down: the zany football games over, the frozen tents finally struck, three boats and 28 men, rowing for their lives for six days in the fraught, perilous escape to Elephant Island, splendidly reconstructed with the help of George Marston's paintings (Marston being one of the original crew).
This was the first crux; the other was the boat journey, when Shackleton and five others aboard the James Caird, after three weeks of impossible odds (a hurricane, a tidal wave, icing over and umpteen near-capsizes) finally made land on South Georgia. Sadly, apart from some strong under-deck footage, this rescue dash proves one of the film's weaker links: for the plucky James Caird's journey, best await the Channel 4 and Petersen efforts. The landing at Peggotty Bluff and Cave Cove seemed well enough suggested; the immediately preceding crisis was far too tame: a force-11 gale needs Perfect Storm-type effects.
There is disappointment, too, at the treacherous mountain crossing of South Georgia. Nova/WGBH, the film's makers, boldly secured three of the world's most brilliant climbers (the Briton Stephen Venables, the American Conrad Anker, who recovered George Mallory's body on Everest, and the German Reinhold Messner - the first to cross Antarctica on foot and to conquer Everest solo and without oxygen), but then restricted them to scarcely a minute of footage; much superb material (145 rolls of film were shot) was edited out. Even that (and the story of T S Eliot's famous "fourth man") is tacked on to some plodding costume shots, like limp period drama. One feels that the cameras, like Shackleton, were in a tearing hurry to get back to civilisation.
But the big-screen (20m high and 26m wide) experience is stunning. Imax's 11,600-watt digital surround-sound system and looming visuals make you feel as if you are there, sharing in the crew's horrors, washed by icy spray and finally waving in open-mouthed disbelief as Shackleton returns, as though from the dead, aboard a Chilean vessel to rescue his 22 marooned men.
Shackleton mania (as the Wall Street Journal dubbed it) seems here to stay. So is the polar fad: there is even an Antarctic musical (staged in Australia) - not to mention the new play based on Scott's Northern party by the Canadian David Young, currently running at London's Savoy Theatre. New biographies and editions are emerging every day. A spanking new Shackleton Library is now a major resource at the Scott-Polar Research Institute in Cambridge.
I should declare an interest: my father, a boy at Dulwich when the James Caird was given to the school in 1924, wrote the story of the boat and founded the James Caird Society (the international Shackleton society, with 670 members). Thanks to him, and to Dulwich, I got to know Hurley's extraordinary photographs (now available on Shane Murphy's CD-ROM Shackleton's Photographer), first heard the explorer's voice on tape, glimpsed the crew's letters and diaries (which are being edited and published), beheld Shackleton's sledge harness and Worsley's sextant and, above all, the boat. I count myself lucky.
Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure can be seen at the BFI London IMAX Cinema, London SE1 (020-7902 1234). The James Caird can be viewed at Dulwich College (020-8693 3601).
The Annual Travel and Exploration Sale took place at Christie's, South Kensington on Wednesday 21 September 2006.
As usual, there were many items of particular interest to Shackletonians.
These included a dinner menu signed by Scott, Wilson, Nansen and others to mark the departure of Shackleton's 1907-9 Nimrod Expedition (Valued at £1,400-1,600); the Visitors' Book used aboard SY Nimrod, including signatures of prominent members of the expedition (valued at £10-15,000); a superb watercolour painting by Gregory Robinson of the Nimrod under tow; and an oil painting by George Marston of a sledging camp in a blizzard.
Other items included Shackleton's well-preserved marching navigational compass, with fitted case and brass mount, inscribed 'Carried by Sir Ernest Shackleton on his Antarctic Expedition 1909'; a copy of the limited edition of 'The Heart of Antarctic'; various photographs depicting sledges and the Arrol-Johnston motor car taken on the expedition; and an original copy of Aurora Australis, the expedition magazine produced in 1908.
Various ephemera relating to the 1907-9 Nimrod expedition included a fine photo portrait of Shackleton in cameo mount; an eight-page pamphlet entitled 'Souvenir of the lecture: 'Nearest to the South Pole' by Sir Ernest Shackleton (1909); and two sheets signed by Shackleton and the 15 other members of the shore party.
Three of Sir Ernest Shackleton's medals were sold: the Royal Victorian Order, the Polar Medal and the Legion d'Honneur. There was also a 1911 edition of the South POlar Times (vol. III, part 1); and several substantial collections of Frank Hurley's photographs and slides.
A portrait photograph of Shackleton presented in advance of the Endurance expedition carried a dedication saying 'To Frank Houlder with Ernest Shackleton's kindest regards, August 1914'.
Of two copies of South dated 1920, one was a presentation copy inscribed by Shackleton to Charles Green, Endurance's cook. The inscription reads 'C.J.Green from Ernest Shackleton in remembrance of all sorts of cooking places but always well cooked food. 1920.' and bears the signatures of several other crew members. There was also a collection of photographs and memorabilia amassed by Green.
Of especial interest was a letter from 'Skipper' Frank Worsley to the firm of Petersen's, Ltd., of Christchurch, New Zealand, thanking them fo their attentiveness in repairing the chronomoter used by Worsley in navigating Shackleton's expedition of 1914-6 aboard Endurance. It was Worsley, of course, who navigated the James Caird on its 800-mile journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia.
There was a memoir of the other half of the 1914 expedition: the Ross Sea Party, based at Scott's old hut. This was the diary of Rev.Arnold P.Spencer-Smith, who was the first ordained clergyman to set foot on the Antarctic continent. He was the photographer of the party, and was involved in laying out supply bases to thr Beardmore glacier before he and others succumbed to bad scurvy in appalling conditions.
Another attractive item was an oak-mounted 8-inch diameter silver swallow with the (poignant) inscription 'Quest RYS 25th Sept 1921-5th Jan 1922', which formerly belonged to Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Two flags were put on sale: a White Ensign from the Quest, which belonged to Lt.Cdr. Douglas Jeffery. He had volunteered for the Endurance expedition, but then withdrawn upon the outrbreak of war. After serving with distinction he leapt at the chance in 1921 to sail with Shackleton again and was signed up as navigating officer aboard Quest; and the Union Jack presented to the Quest expedition himself by King George V and later passed by His Majesty to John Quiller Rowett, the main sponsor of the expedition.