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A Treacherous, Ill-Fated Expedition to Antarctica

Aug 20, 2018 | 831 videos
Video by Glen Milner

In 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew embarked upon the vessel Endurance. Their destination: the South Pole, in an attempt to cross the Antarctic continent. But the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition met an untimely end when the ship became trapped by ice 720 nautical miles from the earth’s most southerly point. Shackleton and his crew became severely ill. Eventually, they abandoned the ship, drifting on sheets of ice for months until they reached Elephant Island, where they were rescued. Incredibly, the crew members survived.

Glen Milner’s short film Letters of Fire retraces the ill-fated steps of Shackleton’s expedition. Over carefully composed shots of the imposing landscape, actor Dominic West narrates some iconic observations from Shackleton’s journal.

“Through stark, static cinematography, I wanted to let the energy of the landscape unfold within the frame,” Milner told The Atlantic. “Shackleton’s observations on the brutality of Antarctica now seem to reflect the fragility of the region, more than 100 years since his expedition.”

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Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.