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Encounters at the End of the World 2007

G CC
4.1 out of 5 stars (98) IMDb 7.8/10

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.

Starring:
Werner Herzog, Scott Rowland
Runtime:
1 hour, 40 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Werner Herzog
Starring Werner Herzog, Scott Rowland
Supporting actors Stefan Pashov, Doug MacAyeal, Ryan Andrew Evans, Kevin Emery, Olav T. Oftedal, Regina Eisert, David R. Pacheco Jr., Samuel S. Bowser, Jan Pawlowski, William Jirsa, Karen Joyce, Libor Zicha, Ashrita Furman, David Ainley, William McIntosh, Clive Oppenheimer, Peter Gorham, Ernest Shackleton
Studio Image Entertainment
MPAA rating G (General Audience)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.

ABOVE THE ICE
BELOW THE ICE
SEALS & MEN
DIVE LOCKER INTERVIEW
SOUTH POLE EXORCISM
JONATHAN DEMME INTERVIEWS WERNER HERZOG

+ 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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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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A good introduction to the researchers and support workers who make the US Antarctic Program work. The emphasis of the docu-movie is on McMurdo station. There is a short trip to South Pole station but not as much detail is provided compared to McMurdo and its environs. No material is provided for the other US station on the peninsula - Palmer station.
I was at McMurdo when Herzog filmed/recorded this movie. While I am not featured I do know most of the those featured to some extent or more. I found his treatment honest. I would have been nice to have discuss some of the controversies existing in Antarctica and the various national programs but that would have required a docu-series.
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Since other reviewers have adequately summarized this film, I'll skip straight to what I thought were the best and worst qualities of "Encounters":

BEST:

- 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.

WORST:

- 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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I was already a Herzog fan after having seen "Grizzly Man" and "Cave of Forgotten Dreams", so I eagerly heeded a friend's recommendation to watch "Encounters". Although I found that Encounters was, in a sense, different from the other two Herzog films I'd seen previously, it nonetheless proved to be an experience that had me singularly focused upon the screen for the entire duration of the movie.

I want to be clear that this is a film which pulls together something of a mish-mash of Herzog's experiences and thoughts about the South Pole: stories of people, excursions into scientific research and intriguing philosophical insights. Some of those who disliked the film complained that it "lacked a unified theme", but I think they've missed the point. "Encounters", by design, is an odyssey without a destination. It paints a riveting and diverse picture of the South Pole as an otherworldly place of disjointed oddities... truly a collection vignettes which are unified only by the fact that they grow out of this desolate and beautiful continent.

Another complaint I've seen is that the film fails to serve as a call to action for tackling the issue of global warming. In an era when polar ice is melting faster than at any other time in human history, I suppose that I can understand why some folks might be disappointed that Herzog didn't leverage his fame and skill to make a film which would highlight and condemn global warming. As someone who is deeply concerned about the condition of our environment, I am sympathetic to their opinion. Still though, I feel like they're overlooking the simple fact that Herzog's brand of art is simply not preoccupied with environmentalism. Herzog's "Encounters" is not a plea to save the future... in fact, it's the exact opposite in a certain sense.
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