Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Community of Extremities

Encounters At the End of the World (Werner Herzog, 2007)
*** (A must see)

This is Werner Herzog latest documentary since Grizzly Man (2005). Mr. Herzog deals with the country as a whole, geographically, geologically as well as historically. Encounters At the End of the World is a documentary film about the southernmost continent Antarctica and its inhabitants. In Encounters you get to be over and under Antarcticas 14 million km² of ice. The untethered ice diving mood is filled with awe and fright with its gloomy aqua palette knowing the risk that goes along with such a dangerous trip. The continent snow-white landscapes are extraordinary in size and show the Transantarctic Mountains for all its beauty. The inhabitants are penguins, fur seals, different types of lichen and algae and its human population. Their are scenes where you are just hanging out with the scientist listening to their stories that are all interesting. Their is a philosopher/fork-lift driver, a journeyman plumber who believes he is from Aztec royalty, a Russian refugee, an eccentric Harvard scientist that wears tweed jackets in homage to the first turn of the century explores and a man who has been studying penguins for the last 20 years who doesn't really talk much. While their not doing research they spend their time watching old sci-fi movies, they go out to bars to see locals performing schticks, grow plants in a green house and wonder where they will go to next. Like Herzog with Encounters he has now filmed a feature on every continent and like these researchers they are drifters of the planet. As one scientist puts it "If you take everyone who is not tied down, they fall to the bottom of the planet". They give a caution about the consequences of global warming and how the melting continent might break off some monstrous icebergs that would have a disastrous impact.-David Davidson

(Bytowne, 324 Rideau Street, 08/15-08/21 & Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank Street, 08/23-08/24)

No comments: