Review of Encounters at the End of the World

Review of Encounters at the End of the World written and directed by Werner Herzog
Rating *** 1/2

This film received an Oscar nomination for best documentary in 2008. I thought it was good, but I felt that there were a number of films that should have been nominated ahead of this one including Dear Zachery and My Kid Could Paint That. Having said that, I can certainly recommend this film.

This film is similar to what you might find on the Discovery Channel or National Geographic. It is perhaps a few notches above the typical documentary found on those channels thanks to some stunning visuals and an imaginative sound track.

Werner Herzog narrates the film, which comes across a little like a home movie. The whole idea behind the film is to show what it's like at the South Pole both above and below the ice and to meet the various individuals who live and work there. Along the way Werner introduces the viewers to a wide range of scientists and researchers including a cell biologist, a vulcanologist, an iceberg expert, a penguin expert, and a number of other colorful characters.

There is no story arc. The film simply jumps from one researcher to the next with nothing connecting them except the harsh climate and desolate environment. Still Werner manages to educate and entertain with the cool underwater/under the ice video along with the choir-like voices that accompany much of the footage. There is a certain otherworldly quality to the film. This is especially true during the seal segment where the recorded sounds from the seals communicating with each other sounds like something out of a Star Track movie.

The disc has an audio commentary and some extras including expanded interviews and some additional underwater footage set to its own new age soundtrack.

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