Encounters at the End of the World (2008) Werner Herzog, who has been making memorable documentaries ever since the 1970s, has dedicated himself more than perhaps any filmmaker alive to the proposition that… 2008-06-11 G PT99M Documentary
Movie Review

Encounters at the End of the World (2008)

MPAA Rating: G
Werner Herzog, Encounters At The End Of The World | ICE CAPADE Werner Herzog is at his peak for Encounters at the End of the World , a riveting documentary about his trek to Antarctica…
Image credit: Henry Kaiser
ICE CAPADE Werner Herzog is at his peak for Encounters at the End of the World, a riveting documentary about his trek to Antarctica documentary
EW's GRADE
A

Details Limited Release: Jun 11, 2008; Rated: G; Length: 99 Minutes; Genre: Documentary

Werner Herzog, who has been making memorable documentaries ever since the 1970s, has dedicated himself more than perhaps any filmmaker alive to the proposition that truth is the new fiction — a realm not merely of drama but of mystery and enchantment and imaginative power. When Herzog stares at reality, he sees the uncanny. In Encounters at the End of the World, he takes his cameras to the most extreme corner of the planet: Antarctica, a place that looks sculpted by some pretty unfriendly gods. It's a subzero dreamscape of spooky, desolate majesty.

There, he finds a community of flaked-out scientist-drifters, almost all of whom are still carrying the shaggy renegade spirit of the '70s. For a while, Herzog hangs around a settlement called McMurdo, which is like some industrial mining village. But then he enters the awesome terrain — the glaciers as high as mountains and as vast (literally) as Texas; the ancient water world that lies beneath the ice. The divers refer to this ocean-with-a-ceiling as a ''cathedral,'' and when the movie takes us down there, we can see why. The configurations are like lunar basilicas made of frozen blasts of crystal. The stunning images aren't enough for Herzog, though. He wants us to see how these quirky researchers, in their lust to explore, are acting out a drive as primitive as nature: the need to break away from the world in order to find it. A

Originally posted Jun 13, 2008 Published in issue #998 Jun 20, 2008 Order article reprints