By STEVE PERSALL, Times Film Critic
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 28, 2002
A chilling adventure
[Photo: Cowboy Booking International]
Sir Ernest Shackleton and his stranded crew at the Ocean Camp in The Endurance: Shackletons Legendary Antarctic Expedition.
The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition (Not rated, probably PG) (93 min.) -- IMAX audiences at Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry have been thrilled by a similarly titled documentary about Sir Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated 1914 voyage to Antarctica. That film and this feature-length release for conventional theaters were both directed by George Butler, combining travelogue footage and re-enactments with still photographs and motion pictures shot and saved by a member of the Endurance crew, Frank Hurley.
The shorter IMAX version is preferable. The grand scope and dangers of the frigid terrain are better expressed in the large format and, while more Hurley footage is included here, the story is more intensely dramatic in a condensed running time. Liam Neeson's narration is a bit more wondrous than Kevin Spacey's even-keel commentary for the IMAX version, taking away some of the fun of being impressed at our own speed.
Either way, the Shackleton story is one for the ages. The British explorer hired 27 crew members with no promise of a safe return, attempting the first land-and-sea crossing of Antarctica. The ship was stalled in an ice floe, eventually crushed by compression, while the crew scrounged an existence for months until springtime and possible escape. The saga of how all 28 men returned safely to England is one of the most remarkable survival tales of all time.
Butler's fascination led him to produce both versions at the same time with mostly different crews. The results are heart-swelling, no matter which format is viewed. Maybe the impact of the feature-length film is reduced by seeing the IMAX edition first. Or it could be vice versa. The bottom line is that people should know this story. A-
Jewish Cinema Showcase
The sixth annual Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival begins tonight at Tampa Theatre, continuing Saturday evening and Sunday after a break Friday evening for the Jewish Sabbath. Five films are scheduled to be screened, plus live entertainment and refreshments.
Tonight's opening selection at 8 p.m. is Dad on the Run (Cours toujours), a French comedy about a father (Clement Sibony) following a North African circumcision custom requiring him to bury his new son's foreskin. The loss of that personal memento leads the father on a madcap search of the streets of Paris.
When the festival resumes Saturday at 8 p.m., the featured film will be Left Luggage, a drama making a return to Tampa Bay after two brief previous engagements. Laura Fraser plays a nanny whose views of religion conflict with those of the orthodox family (Isabella Rossellini, director Jeroen Krabbe) employing her. Oscar winner Maximilian Schell (Judgment at Nuremburg) co-stars as her father searching for two suitcases buried with his World War II past.
At 10 p.m., the film Solomon and Gaenor examines a star-crossed romance between a Jewish man (Ioan Gruffud) and a Christian woman (Nia Roberts) in Wales. Desserts will be served outside Tampa Theatre between the films, along with live klezmer music.
Sunday's lineup begins at 1 p.m. with Fighter, a documentary comprised of interviews with Holocaust survivors. Trailers Schmailers closes out the festival at 3:30 p.m., examining the images of Jewish culture in mainstream Hollywood films from the Marx Brothers to Schindler's List. A panel discussion of the topic will be held after the screening.
Tickets are $7.50 for each screening or $25 for the complete 5-film package. Discounts are available for seniors and students. They can be purchased through Ticketmaster outlets, the Tampa Theatre box office and the hosting Tampa JCC/Federation. Call (813) 264-9000 for details.
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