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.
Amazon calculates a product’s star ratings based on a machine learned model instead of a raw data average. The model takes into account factors including the age of a rating, whether the ratings are from verified purchasers, and factors that establish reviewer trustworthiness.
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
This joyous, gorgeous documentary takes viewers to Antarctica. It is filled with quirky, well-educated characters who could have been at home in Northern Exposure's tiny town of Cicely, Alaska. (For those too young to remember, Northern Exposure was a comedy that aired on CBS in the early 1990's.) I could not stop laughing and grinning during the interviews. The stark contrast between awe inspiring scenery and what appeared to be a mining operation was hard not to miss. I hesitate to tell you where the documentary will take you. I can assure you that the sights, activities, and people are well chosen to bring insight into the human condition. Highly recommended.
This is a charming documentary about the wondrous beauty of Antarctica and the quirky people who do research and other work there. Of the several other documentary films of Werner Herzog's I've enjoyed (The White Diamond, Grizzly Man, and Cave of Forgotten Dreams) this is my favorite - consistently entertaining, humorous, poignant, and starkly and pristinely beautiful, along with an interesting sound track by Henry Kaiser and David Lindley. This soundtrack includes some great playing by Kaiser and Lindley (both electric and acoustic) as well as contributions from the local Weddell seals (who communicate in an other-worldly, analogue synthesizer sounding way), and various musicians (similar sounding to the Herzog soundtrack Requiem for a Dying Planet) with what sounds like Norwegian Hardanger fiddle, Malagasy guitar, cello, Bulgarian Throat Singers, Russian Basso Profondo, and other choral arrangements.
The film is (surprisingly for me) produced by Henry Kaiser, and the highlight is some of his underwater photography.
My only complaint is that the soundtrack isn't separately available...
But in fact, there is one poignant extended scene about penguins and the one who, for whatever reason, chooses to head off across 5000 km of ice to certain death. And, while the rule for scientists in Antarctica is not to interfere, even if they did the penguin would only set out on his doomed journey once again.
That scene is only one small slice of the wondrous and often weird realities that Werner Herzog turns his camera to in Encounters at the End of the World. A glance at the other reviews here shows a minority view, but to me it is impossible to watch this documentary without becoming suffused with joy and awe at the continent but even more at the fact that all this, including us and the very individual people working on the continent, has come to be and continues to unfold with destination -- as Herzog alludes to -- completely unknown.
The soundtrack enhances this continuing mystery, with chants and strings and even sounds of seals under the ice. Only in an extended under ice water scene toward the middle of the movie does it become overbearing and detracting from the beauties the camera is recording.
As an aside, kudos to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for its Antarctic Artists and Writers program that provided funding for Encounters. If only all my tax dollars were so well spent.
The bottom line is simple -- make Encounters part of your permanent DVD library.
Reviewed in the United States on February 24, 2009
Words cannot express the stunning beauty, vastness and magnificence of the Antarctic landscapes. I have always been fascinated by this enigmatic land, and Mr. Herzog's film did not disappoint. Of course, Mr. Herzog loves to examine eccentric behavior (Grizzly Man, anyone?), and those who populate the McMurdo Station are often the target he loves. There's no question that he admires these people, but many are there for worldly reasons, beyond the science of it all, and it's all relevent. The interview with the man who escaped from Russia with his life (and little else) was paricularly touching. Zeroing in on the work that those people do is especially interesting. So much more to say, but suffice it to say Mr. Herzog has found another location that is a character unto itself. The scenes studying Mt. Erebus were quite fine. The DVD I saw was only a single-disc version, but had the extras "Over the Ice" and "Under the Ice". Both were especially intriguing. I enjoyed this film perhaps more than most. I wonder why documentaries are never nominated for cinematography... this was a stellar achievement, on many levels. Even Zog's snide comments didn't bother me too much, because there was eventually a magnificent vista to behold to take your breath away.
Werner Herzog warned the studio that he wouldn't make another movie on penguins. He didn't keep quite his promise. He actually did film some of them, concentrating on one individual that went totally berserk, heading for the mountains instead of the ocean full of fish, to a certain death... Following Herzog this penguin had enough of the biting cold, the frozen wind, the endless day and the endless night. You see this is undoubtedly a typical Herzog movie, where this time no imagination at all was required to create his fantasy world. Herzog didn't had to invent Fitzcarraldo. He just had to go out with his camera and interview the people he came across : linguists growing tomatoes in a world without languages, philosophers driving heavy machinery, scientists watching science fiction doomsday pictures, investigators playing rock music in the middle of nowhere, a glaciologist putting poetry into the movement of the Antarctic ice mass, a marine biologist pondering about the horrors of the undersea world... In a nutshell : great people living great dreams ! And also the soundtrack is great, partly performed by seals making "Pink Floyd music".
This was an underwhelming film which to my mind doesnt live up to its purpose. It arguably merits two rather than the three stars I've kindly given it. Whats not good about it? It doesn't cover much ground at all. It doesn't interview many people. We have no real sense what purpose the base serves. It is limited to summer rather than the winter experience one would hope for. The positives: some decent filming underwater - but that doesnt make for a satisfying or informative film, unless this is your specific interest. This is the first time I've posted a negative review of something but this film deviated so far from my expectations and the impression other reviewers left. It does however live up to its name: Encounters, and that's pretty much what it is - but to go out of my way to buy a film of a less than a half dozen conversations?
Breathtaking views, wonderful discussion on humankind and our impact on this planet, our hopes, fears, dreams, our future. Beautiful underwater photography. Left me a bit sad but hopeful. Had no idea so much was stationed at the South Pole!
What I appreciated about Wernor Herzog is that he focuses on the people. Most documentaries about the antarctic focus on the ice, the snow, and the wildlife, but this one explores the odd cast of people who work (and live) in this remote area of the world.
J'ai acheté ce film-documentaire de Werner Herzog pour plusieurs raisons. La première est le génie de ce cinéaste allemand, son regard, sa sensibilité et son humanité même dans les situations les plus extrêmes comme ici en Antarctique. La seconde raison c'est que je n'ai pas prévu de me rendre en Antarctique prochainement donc rien de tel qu'un beau film pour y aller par l'esprit !
Brilliant film. Werner Herzog has a very dry, understated sense of humour that has you giggling away as we get to know the bizarre characters in Mc Murdo- the giant building site at the end of the world. The shots are awe inspiring, but it's the characters that make the film- how did he find so many philosophers and freaks in one little place?
He gently mocks the people he interviews, not holding back, but not being mean either. One of my favourite parts is when they do survival training on how to cope in a blizzard, I wont spoil it, suffice to say it's very technical...and hilarious to watch.
Certainly not your typical nature documentary but the gentle pace, beautiful shots, colourful characters and amusing commentary do a great job of portraying the threats the poles face without throwing a load a of facts and figures at you.