May 6, 2008
THINKFilm and Discovery Films present Encounters at the End of the World, a new documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog (Rescue Dawn, Grizzly Man).
Ever been to Antarctica? Me neither, believe it or not. I'd say we both have about the same chance of going to the moon as we do getting down to South Pole. Fortunately, people like Werner Herzog bring it to us with films like Encounters at the End of the World, a bizarre look at a bizarre place and the bizarre people and animals who inhabit it. No, not Eskimos - you're in the wrong hemisphere (and they're not bizarre). I'm talking about about a place where the sun's in the sky for five months. Straight. Where people on the fringes of society conduct science experiments that we'll never understand. Where the creatures from your nightmares live.
Werner Herzog shows us this world with equal parts humor and affection, both of which are accidental to his always funny monotone narration. The people he interviews are primarily scientists: scuba diving cell biologists, death-defying volcanologists, and a guy studying neutrinos with a massive helium balloon, just to name a few.
If listening to brainiacs talk about how much they love the end of the world doesn't do it for you, consider checking it out for the scenery. The deep sea is one of my greatest fears, and though this was fully reinforced by the film, there is one majestic tracking sequence underwater that I found incredibly beautiful. It was literally otherworldly, and it left me slack-jawed.
There's currently no trailer for Encounters at the End of the World, but I'll amend the post if and when one materializes. In the meantime you can check out the misleading stills on the official website. None of them show the many people we meet, nor do we really get sense that the film is actually about anything. But it is. It's about the end of the world, and there's no place like it.
Make the journey if you're so moved, and find my full review when Encounters at the End of the World opens on June 11th.
UPDATE (6/4/08): Trailer is up, check it out at The Documentary Blog.