Monday, March 09, 2009

Encounters at the End of the World, a Werner Herzog documentary

Encounters at the End of the World

The scenery is breathtaking and surreal. The animals that inhibit this land grab our attention and inspire our imagination with its peculiar shapes and abilities (glowing in the dark always does). The human subjects of this documentary all have peculiar and intriguing stories to tell (and some choose not to). Documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog brings all these elements together in "Encounters at the End of the World". The stories fostered in this documentary all have one thing in common, the south pole. Yet, they all seamlessly blend together to create a somewhat ethereal nut raw account of life at the south pole.

The human stories are peculiar because they represent the average person, but one who decided to test the extremes and go to the end of the Earth, literally. The stories presented are so perfectly narrated that they are engaging and makes us want to experience the south pole for ourselves. Nature is presented as beautifully surreal, violent and still yet ever-changing.

For me, it was pivotal to the experience of the film to realize that this beautiful scenery was being savaged by the effects of global change. It all seemed to fragile and unstable considering the seeming undisturbed permanence of the Antarctic ocean and the creatures that inhabit it. Through this documentary, Herzog manages to document the often solitary and altogether surreal life in the Antarctic in a way that is spellbinding, making the experience altogether real. Why the three stars then? It felt a bit long.

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