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Encounters at the End of the World

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Encounters at the End of the World + Cave of Forgotten Dreams + Happy People: A Year in the Taiga
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Product Details

  • Actors: Werner Herzog, Scott Rowland, Stefan Pashov, Doug MacAyeal, Ryan Andrew Evans
  • Directors: Werner Herzog
  • Writers: Werner Herzog
  • Producers: Andrea Meditch, Dave Harding, Erik Nelson, Henry Kaiser, Julian Hobbs
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 18, 2008
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001DWNUD8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,592 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Encounters at the End of the World" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the most hostile, barren, alien environment on the planet - you meet the most interesting people. Welcome to Antarctica - like you've never experienced it. You've seen the extraordinary marine life, the retreating glaciers and, of course, the penguins, but leave it to award-winning, iconoclastic filmmaker Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, Rescue Dawn) to be the first to explore the South Pole's most fascinating inhabitants...humans. In this one-of-kind documentary, Herzog turns his camera on a group of remarkable individuals, "professional dreamers" who work, play and struggle to survive in a harsh landscape of mesmerizing, otherworldly beauty - perhaps the last frontier on earth.


Just about anywhere Werner Herzog goes becomes an interesting place, in part because the director shapes it with his distinctively sardonic eye. In Encounters at the End of the World, the 'Zog heads off to Antarctica, finding there a population of unusual people, hallucinatory underwater life, and penguins. He doesn't appear on camera, but the unmistakably Teutonic Herzog voice is very much with us all the time, a baleful tour guide for this blank destination. In the human outposts of Antarctica, Herzog finds the kind of people you might expect would gravitate to the edge of existence--the curious, the oddball, the wanderers who've run out of other places to explore. He finds some deadpan hilarity, especially in filming a communication drill involving people practicing blizzard conditions (they wear buckets over their heads while roped together). The underwater photography (a realm previously explored in Herzog's The Wild Blue Yonder) is by Henry Kaiser, and it meshes perfectly with the director's interest in alien eye-scapes. And when Herzog finally does find penguins, his imagination goes to the idea that some penguins go insane, scurrying off into their own suicidal directions. This isn't as arresting a film as Grizzly Man, but it is an entertaining travelogue spiked with quirky observations. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

The filming is done extremely well.
Daniel G. Lebryk
There might be a boring moment there, a boring moment here, but overall the film is very interesting from beginning to end.
Feral Puma
Werner Herzog has a fascinating way of pulling beauty out of what seems to be the end of the world.
katherine briner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By H. Kaiser on October 27, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
What the current Amazon listing does not explicitly mention is the wealth of DVD EXTRAS that accompany the 100 minute feature in this 2-DVD set.


+ a hidden "Easter Egg" extra: SEAL MEN, an Antarctic Parody of Herzog's GRIZZLY MAN, with weddell seals replacing grizzly bears

to access this Easter Egg:
on page 2 of the extras
highlight the exorcism extra
then move the cursor to the right
and the highlight will disappear
then press enter
this will open the secret and hidden easter egg extra: SEAL MEN

all and all this is over 3 hours of EXTRAS!
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43 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Daniel G. Lebryk TOP 50 REVIEWER on December 11, 2008
Format: DVD
There are movies, there are directors, and then there are masterpieces and masterful directors. Encounters is a true masterpiece, especially taken within the body of Herzog's work. This is a documentary first, much like Grizzly Man. Grizzly Man

The film in Antarctica itself is goregous. There is a subtle construction by Herzog that feels at first like a random documentary, but then builds over time to something much more than simply another film about "cute penguins", or planet earth. There is a below the ice and above the ice aspect to this film, physically and about the people. I loved the music, it fits so perfectly with the rythmn. The filming is done extremely well.

Early in the film Herzog promises to not make another film about cute penguins, and he certainly delivers. Although there is a short sequence about a cute penguin, lost walking the wrong direction with such determination to his certain death.

The bonus features in this DVD package are incredible. Aside from the extra footage under the water and flying in a helicopter, there is a second disc. The second disc is almost worth the price of admission, Johnathan Demme (director of Silence of the Lambs) interviews Werner Herzog for an hour and a half. The conversation is incredible. Demme opens the conversation reading a letter from Roger Ebert to Herzog(this film is dedicated to Roger). Suffice it to say, there is nothing I can possibly add to the full conversation. You will have to watch this amazing exchange.

Herzog apparently is highly influenced by music and sound. There is a fairly significant thread through this film dealing with both.
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Georg Einarsson on March 6, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Since other reviewers have adequately summarized this film, I'll skip straight to what I thought were the best and worst qualities of "Encounters":


- The filming itself is brilliant, as you'd expect from Herzog. The contrast beetween the spellbinding landscape and the banal living quarters of its inhabitants is striking.

- The interviews provide terrific insight into the passion and curiousity that is necessary to subject oneself to living, even temporarily, in the most inhospitable land on the planet.

- The footage of the Antarctic Ocean floor is truly otherwordly. The creatures beneath the "frozen sky" are beyond even the most imaginative science fiction writers.

- There are approximately three hours of extra footage contained in the extra features on disc one and disc two, including segments of footage taken above and below the frozen surface. There is also a 90 minute interview of Werner Herzog conducted by acclaimed director Jonathan Demme, which is very interesting and, for me, worth the price of admission.


- The film's interviews are often laden with scientific jargon that I suspect will alienate a general audience. I found the content of the interviews fascinating, albeit completely over my head.

- As other reviewers have noted, the interviews with the so-called "commoners" that were not in Antarctica for scientific study were too short. I felt that insufficient time was spent on telling their stories.

- While many of Herzog's observations and contemplations are fascinating, they never seem to connect to a larger theme or thesis.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jolly Green Giant on August 6, 2009
Format: DVD
This film is as much about the people who reside and work in Antarctica as it is about the work they are doing there. A bus driver, a mechanic, and others with stated and unstated occupations are featured doing art in their room, playing guitar, watching a black and white sci-fi film, and standing outside of a piece of construction equipment. The philosopher standing outside of his construction vehicle was very moving, it was almost as if he was getting choked up describing Antarctica and philosophy. He was my favorite character in the film.

Several scientists are also followed in their work, including a couple of volcanologists, a cell biologist, a penguin scientist (Dr. David Ainley), a particle astrophysicist (Dr. Peter Gorhan), and more including divers. Their work is interesting but several awkward moments are allowed to film, but that is the filmmakers style, not indicative of bad editing.

The sheer beauty of Antarctica does not come across as well as in other films I have seen, but I did find this one to be the most realistic films of life in Antarctica. The filmmaker stated he was not going to Antarctica to "make another penguin film".

The underwater scenes are quite fascinating and beautiful. They were the primary reason I sought out this film and they are the best parts. Russian Orthodox music is infused with the glorious underwater sea life, creating a memorable moment in film that you may never forget.
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