Encounters at the end of the world (EAEW) is a hypnotic film. It is a philosopher’s delight with sublime cinematography and otherworldly music. Those features are apt companion to the incredulous stories of the Antarctica’s residents.
To paraphrase one of the residents – All those living on the edge get thrown off the margins at some point and fall into Antarctica. It’s a movie about rebels without guns, iconoclasts armed with ideas and theories that are either simply quirky or ahead of their time. But the true trump card is Werner Herzog, the legendary German peddler of dreams. Herzog articulates his thoughts lucidly and his accent adds that tad bit of edge to his ideas. He questions our desire for quest, the impact of race to the top and does it all with a touch of class and enigma. None of his comments are direct or offensive but a lot is said between the lines in that acerbic tone. Although there is a sense of kinetic energy to the film with ample dose of guitar playing, shots of flags waving wildly in the arid landscape and scientists partying in the desert, but the film is primarily a meditative experience. Many minutes are spent in a surreal ice cave and swimming with seals in water holes under ice with lovely fusion music by Henry Kaiser , another heretic from the main land.
Encounters is about Antarctica but not about Penguins. It is a film that you don’t ever want to end. And why should it end after all? There is no arc to it. There is no high point or low drama. It is simply a series of observations. Relax and immerse in this top notch art.