Invited by National Science Foundation to film life in Antarctica, famed German filmmaker Werner Herzog says he made it clear to his sponsors that he wasn’t there to make “another documentary about fluffy penguins.”
Instead, Encounters at the End of the World focuses on the scientists, mechanics, forklift drivers and other brave souls toughing it out at McMurdo Station, the foundation’s base of operations.
Accompanied by music co-written by David Lindley and the film’s producer, Henry Kaiser, Encounters takes us on an awe-inspiring tour of the strange alien universe underneath the Antarctic ice. (There is an extra 30 minutes of this mind-expanding footage on a DVD featurette.)
Viewers also have the opportunity to visit a live volcano and hear the otherwordly bleeps of seals beneath the ice (one scientist compares the sounds to Pink Floyd).
Antarctica may seem like a bleak forbidden wasteland but viewed from Mr. Herzog’s singular perspective these vast frozen expanses take on an almost romantic grandeur.
To this iconoclastic filmmaker the snow-covered continent is the last refuge for old school adventurers and “professional dreamers.”
One of the things I have always liked about documentaries (and film in general) is the ability to take me to places I would never visit on my own.
Thanks to Werner Herzog and his hardy film crew I learned that Antarctica isn’t just cold. It’s cool.