Encounters at the End of the World (2007)

Introspective scientist.

Introspective scientist.

In Encounters at the End of the World, Werner Herzog takes on Antarctica. Who would have guessed Antarctica is the perfect place for an introspective German? I guess when you think about it, it makes sense;  Antarctica is the ultimate fringe, and the folks who travel, study and work there are as strange and varied as you could imagine. This is what Herzog captures perfectly in this documentary.

Herzog makes it a point right off the bat to let his audience know this will not be March of the Penguins. Though a documentary about Antarctica will inevitably include aspects of its landscape and wildlife, Herzog is more interested in the people that study it than Antarctica

Listening to seals.

Listening to seals.

itself. And so it is always on the periphery of the story he’s following; never the main attraction. It all starts with the trip there, as Herzog looks around at his fellow passengers, many of them sleeping and wonders: “what are their dreams?” That question sets the stage for all the interviews he’s about to conduct, and all the strange folks we’re about to meet!

We see people wander around the landscape with buckets on their heads, in an attempt to simulate a “white-out” situation, where the snow is coming down fast and the wind blowing too hard for anyone to see their own hand in front of their face. But what of the guy that teaches them this stuff? What is his life like? What about the



volcanologist, or the guy that studies glaciers? And how about that arduous conversation with the penguin guy, who’s spent so much time alone in Antarctica it seems he’s actually forgotten how to converse with people? Is he as disoriented and lost as the penguin we follow, who insists on marching towards the mountains, away from any hope of food or friends?

This documentary is freakin’ fantastic! Picking Antarctica as the setting of course helps a lot; it’s an amazing and strange place with a lot of stuff the average viewer won’t be familiar with. What makes this so special is, unsurprisingly, Herzog’s interviews with the people. No matter how simple the question, Herzog seems to draw the mystic out of everyone he speaks with, and it is totally awesome. Everyone should watch this!



1 Response to “Encounters at the End of the World (2007)”

  1. 1 ladyfaceladyface
    October 30, 2013 at 7:25 am

    I saw this in the movie theatre and also enjoyed it!

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