Encounters at the End of the World (2007)

Encounters This was a nice one to watch late at night, as I did a few days ago. Herzog’s most recent documentary (he’s since turned out two fiction films in a row) takes us as far down as you can go, to bright and sunny Antarctica to meet some of the inhabitants… not just the animal ones, either; the polar wildlife Herzog wants to know about is the human fauna. This is a Herzog film rather than a National Geographic special, and when penguins do make an appearance it’s in a suitably bizarre context; March of the Penguins it aint. There’s life-and-death comedy, there’s some distinctly odd people in evidence, there’s musings on the impact of humanity upon the world in general, but above all there’s some truly astonishing footage of a world that, Herzog reminds us, isn’t another planet but is nonetheless alien to our everyday experience. I’m not sure he really finds out exactly what it is that drives people to the bottom of the world, and something about it (I’m not sure what) that stops it short of greatness, but the voyage is well worth taking even so.

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