I love heroes who look like heroic failures but actually were incredibly successful against the odds, even if they didn’t complete their stated mission.
Whether it’s George Mallory attempting to summit Everest in 1924 in hobnail boots and a tweed coat (I like to think he and Irving made it to the top); or Sir Ernest Shackleton, who turned failure on its head to complete one of the bravest and most audacious sea journeys and lost not a single man.
And now there’s news that Tom Hardy will play the Anglo-Irish Shackleton in a new film about his great escape. In 1914 Shackleton was aiming to cross Antarctica but en route to the continent his ship Endurance got stuck in pack ice. It drifted for 9 months stuck in the ice before finally being crushed (the picture above famously shows the crew playing football on the pack ice).
Then he and his crew decamped into the lifeboats and sailed to the uninhabited Elephant Island. From there Shackleton and a handful of crew members sailed in a lifeboat over 700 miles across treacherous seas to reach the island of South Georgia which was inhabited. They then sent a rescue party back to Elephant Island and all the remaining men were rescued.
Outside of exploration Shackleton’s life was not nearly so successful, and his many businesses ventures left him heavily in debt.
Obviously I will spend the next year praying they do justice to this story, but if anyone can then Tom Hardy can.