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Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey

by Nick Bertozzi
2014 / 125 pages

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton was obsessed with reaching the South Pole. He tried to be the first to get there, setting out on two expeditions that fell short when harsh conditions drove them back. Ultimately he was beaten to the Pole by a Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, who made it there in December of 1911.

But if Shackleton couldn’t be the first to the Pole, then he was determined to be the first to traverse the Antarctic from one side to the other. With this ambitious goal in mind, he set out with his crew on August 1, 1914. Shackleton would fail this time too, but in such a spectacular and heroic manner that the tale of his failure has been retold again and again in countless books and several documentaries. His ship sunk, his sled dogs were killed to be eaten for food, and his crew was stranded on an icepack that was constantly breaking up, the only solid ground being an island 100 miles away across the open water. Yet, somehow, Shackleton and his crew all made it home alive, more than 2 years after they left.

Nick Bertozzi’s graphic novel is one of the latest and certainly one of the greatest additions to the Shackleton canon. At times humorous – it includes a toga party and a stowaway who readily accepts that should food be in short supply he will be the first eaten – and gripping throughout. Bertozzi presents Shackleton as a man who would risk much, but who wouldn’t throw away his men’s lives to complete this goal. As obsessed as he was with the Pole, Shackleton was more obsessed about his men’s well-being and he was determined to do whatever it took to get them back home.

Cautions

This does have some language concerns, but doesn’t take God’s Name in vain. “Damn” or “damned” occurs about a half dozen times, and also notable is the use of the word “bloody” which I understand is quite offensive among the British (but doesn’t seem so bad to me) – it is used more than a dozen times.

Conclusion

I’d recommend this for any teens who might have a history project to do. They might not find it as gripping as the latest Marvel movie, but this is a pretty rollicking tale, and especially if they keep in mind that this is true, it really could grip them. Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey will also appeal to any adults who aren’t embarrassed at the thought of being seen reading a comic.

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WHO IS THIS FOR?

Ages 16-116, single or married, children or no children, these presentations are suitable for all mature Christians.

WHEN AND WHERE?

Edmonton: April 19 at 7:30 pm at Immanuel Canadian Reformed Church

Barhead: April 20 at 7:30 pm at Emmanuel United Reformed Church

Ponoka: April 22 at 7:30 pm at Parkland Reformed Church

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Animated, Movie Reviews

Long Way North

Animated / Family 81 minutes / 2015 RATING: 7/10 It's the 1880s, the North Pole has yet to be reached, and a Russian explorer dreams of doing so. But when his expedition disappears, along with his unsinkable ice-breaking ship, the Russian Tsar offers a million rubles for anyone who can find them. No one does. Two years later, the explorer's 15-year-old granddaughter, Sasha, discovers his notes and realizes that everyone has been searching in the wrong area. When she can't convince anyone to listen – and when her prodding angers a Russian prince and harms her family's social status – Sasha steals away on her own to discover what really happened. With the lure of the Tsar's reward, Sasha manages to convince an ice-breaking ship to take her on board. Cautions Sasha is the only one who knew where her grandfather's ship is; all the adults should have listened to her! This "the kid knows best" is a staple in children's movies. but fortunately it isn't pushed all that hard here. And Sasha is also shown being rescued by adults who are cleary wiser in these other areas. The only other caution concerns the moment when Sasha finds her grandfather. He's dead, his body frozen and looking more ice sculpture than corpse, so it isn't all that scary. And it's almost as if everyone knew he couldn't still be alive, so the scene is sad, but not weepy. Conclusion This is a sweet story about a granddaughter's love and respect for her grandfather. What makes it unique is the hand-drawn animation, and the starkly beautiful arctic landscapes. This French/Danish production is drawn in an often lineless form – a carriage in the distance is just a block of color – that's very different from anything you're familiar with. While the first 15 minutes might test the patience of some younger viewers, the director's leisurely pacing gives the barren ice and waves and wind time to entrance us. This could be a wonderful family film for a quiet night when the snow is blowing up against your own front door. ...