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Encounters at the End of the World

Encounters at the End of the World

5.0 1

Cast: Werner Herzog, David Ainley, Samuel S. Bowser, Regina Eisert


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Werner Herzog, director of such acclaimed documentaries as Grizzly Man and Little Dieter Needs to Fly, offers his unique perspective on the South Pole in this film profiling the Antarctic community of McMurdo Station. Located on Ross Island, McMurdo Station is the headquarters of the National Science Foundation. Whether


Werner Herzog, director of such acclaimed documentaries as Grizzly Man and Little Dieter Needs to Fly, offers his unique perspective on the South Pole in this film profiling the Antarctic community of McMurdo Station. Located on Ross Island, McMurdo Station is the headquarters of the National Science Foundation. Whether offering a detailed study of the unique survival training regimen that newcomers to McMurdo are obligated to endure or pondering the majestic beauty of a landscape where the discovery of three new species in a single day is something worth truly celebrating, Herzog boldly offers viewers the opportunity to visit one of the most inaccessible and awe-inspiring landscapes on the planet.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
Any filmgoer who's been fortunate enough to have seen director Werner Herzog's best works knows well the poetic power and remarkable mastery of his imagery, pacing, and overall tone. This not only applies to Herzog's narrative features, but -- somewhat uniquely -- to his documentary films as well. In his 2005 documentary Grizzly Man, Herzog painted a fascinating portrait of a true outsider whose unbound passion for nature ultimately brought upon his untimely death. With Encounters at the End of the World, Herzog continues this long trend of profiling people on the fringes of society, this time focusing on the small community of "professional dreamers" who live and work at the National Science Foundation's Antarctic headquarters. The result is a film that is at once mesmerizing and captivating, due both to the surroundings he explores and to the fascinating people he meets. Opening to reveal the majestic beauty of the underwater kingdom that sits just beneath McMurdo Station in the South Pole, the first frames of the film make it easy to see why Herzog wanted to travel to this remote corner of the globe and interview its curious inhabitants. Herzog is a man with many questions about nature, though they aren't necessarily the kind of questions you would see posed on your average National Geographic special; he ultimately proves himself to be just as interested in exploring the dreams and motivations of the scientists themselves as he is in the environment they're researching. The people Herzog speaks with are just as colorful and interesting as the surroundings they reside in, and as a result, the film proves as stimulating intellectually as it is visually. With titles like "Forklift driver/Philosopher" the inhabitants of the various field camps visited by Herzog always have an interesting story to tell, and whether he's speaking with the community bus driver or the neutrino physicist, he's got a fascinating knack for drawing those stories out. An interview with a cell biologist preparing for his last professional dive turns unexpectedly profound as the director's brooding subject begins to ponder the microscopic horrors that await him on the ocean floor, and later, a casual conversation with a notoriously reticent penguin researcher leads to one of the film's most poignant moments, after Herzog attempts to liven the conversation by playfully inquiring about insanity among penguins. Likewise, his consistent practice of allowing the camera to linger on his subjects long after they've completed their thoughts draws out their true inner nature in a way that not even the best questions can. Occasionally going back to the topic of Ernest Shackleton and his historic trek across the Antarctic, Herzog skillfully raises important questions about the changing ways we view the world we live in, the true nature of exploration, and, ultimately, the sustainability of human life on planet Earth. Indeed, repeated scenes of divers drifting under a seemingly infinite ceiling of ice ultimately take on the air of NASA footage of astronauts floating in space (albeit much more colorful), and Herzog himself admits that the McMurdo Station -- nestled completely self-contained in a vast stretch of nothingness -- could well stand as an earthly blueprint for future deep-space settlements. Later, as the researchers descend into the enormous vents along the slopes of a volcano and explore an underground tunnel housing a curious time capsule to be preserved for discovery by future generations, their philosophies combine with the otherworldly imagery and music to create something that is truly sublime. Perhaps these dreamers who somehow ended up at the true end of the Earth are on to something after all.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Image Entertainment
[Wide Screen]
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Special Features

Audio commentary with director Werner Herzog, producer Henry Kaiser and cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger; Featurettes: ; Under the Ice, Over the Ice, Dive Locker Interview: Werner Herzog Talks With Rob Robbins and Henry Kaiser, South Pole Exorcism and Seals & Men; Jonathan Demme Interviews Werner Herzog; Theatrical trailer

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Werner Herzog Narrator
David Ainley Participant
Samuel S. Bowser Participant
Regina Eisert Participant
Kevin Emery Participant
Ashrita Furman Participant
William Jirsa Participant
Karen Joyce Participant
Douglas MacAyeal Participant
William McIntosh Participant
Olav T. Oftedal Participant
Clive Oppenheimer Participant
David R. Pacheco Participant
Stefan Pashov Actor
Jan Pawlowski Actor
Scott Rowland Participant
Libor Zicha Participant

Technical Credits
Werner Herzog Director,Screenwriter,Sound/Sound Designer
Joe Bini Editor
Jessica Dejong Production Manager
Julian P. Hobbs Executive Producer
Henry Kaiser Score Composer,Producer
Tree Leyburn Associate Producer
David Lindley Score Composer
Andrea Meditch Producer
Erik Nelson Executive Producer
Douglas Quin Sound/Sound Designer
D.D. Stenehjem Sound/Sound Designer
Peter Zeitlinger Cinematographer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Encounters at the End of the World
1. Why? [6:38]
2. Ivan [3:54]
3. Professional Dreamers [9:31]
4. Survival School [6:02]
5. Seal Scientists [7:15]
6. Spirit [2:47]
7. Dive Camp [11:31]
8. Under the Frozen Sky [6:59]
9. Celebration [2:27]
10. Stories to Tell [9:22]
11. Absurd Quests [3:28]
12. Penguins [5:33]
13. Mount Erebus [5:31]
14. South Pole Shrine [2:59]
15. Exploring the Volcano [6:54]
16. Neutrino Project [6:50]
17. End Credits [2:48]


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Encounters at the End of the World 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
narod More than 1 year ago
I'm not a big fan of theatrical films, but Werner's documentaries are great. He finds the most remarkable characters to film, and his viewpoint is always unique. The scientists in this film are quite a group, and their take on the long-term survival of humans is sobering. The commentary track is a must to hear...great stuff