South | Chicago Reader

South

Australian photographer and filmmaker Frank Hurley shot this 1919 British documentary during Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914-'16 antarctic expedition. Shackleton's ship became trapped in the ice, and eventually Hurley had to abandon his camera, so his footage covers only the initial part of the saga, eliding most of the crew's worst hardships and missing the spectacular rescue effort. Hurley also shows us cute animals—sled dogs, seals, and penguins and other birds—without so much as a hint that many of them, including some of the dogs, were killed and eaten when food supplies grew short. Still, much of this is awe inspiring, Hurley's majestic compositions and gentle pans capturing the silent vastness of the region. This 1994 restoration approximates the original tinting, which gives the images an appropriately otherworldly beauty. 88 min.

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