Saturday, March 17, 2012

"Encounters at the End of the World" (Documentary) (2008) - Movie Review

This it the first documentary I have seen of Werner Herzog and his voice is something that livens up the experience. It is of course not the instant wiseness we respect and absorb as that of Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones but it has something beyond that. It has got the true emotion and the truth of a man’s desperate need for looking out adventures, answers and mystic. This is Werner Herzog as a person curious like anyone among us venturing out those curiosity on to the horizon and beyond it. He is fascinated by the world he lands, the people he meets and he wants to share it.

An underwater picture from the South Pole by his friend has invited the interest in this daring man. He picks up the camera and ventures out with his minimalist crew with no idea whatsoever on coming up with a film. I am sure avid enthusiasts of nature and far side of the world would have sat through immense documentaries done with intense style offered by Discovery and National Geographic channel. And I am sure they would have been educated, learned, enthralled and even encouraged to visit that world. What is so different about Herzog’s presentation? Apart from his deep pronouncing explanations and honest gravity to those, he wanders across this world for everything it has to offer. Right from the point of being annoyed by the civilization of the McMurdo Station to the deep sounds the Seals make he gives a true pure experience of being in that place. Yet he never does completely confess his feelings. He states and moves on.

His stress on the scenarios, people and places are there as is. We see his interest towards it but cannot really deduce what his deep liking or dislike towards them. The man so out and clear on his voice is as mystic as the bright, cold and vast Antarctica. This is “Encounters at the End of the World” and it will not blow your mind but brings a serenity and a dimension you would not have met with.

The people out here are not the norms the society has uglily, truthfully and boringly defined. There are cooks who are scientists, florists who are linguists and there are people who simply fall outside the envelope of the conventional living. They spread their wings towards the deepness of the whiteness. There is a philosopher who operates forklifts and has a thing or two to say about the land. There is a lady who has seen enough adventures for several lifetimes and wants more of it. The people are crazy, daring, at peace and deeply in a non-stop meditation of life.

The film is the closest one can come in terms of living through the routines of McMurdo and the launching it gives towards the rest of the place. The one who cannot travel to this land and sit on their couches to look at the impossibility of the current life that bore down to those comfy locations. For a mystical film such as this, the poetry on it does not come of as easily I expected. There are spellbinding places the camera takes us through and we are in wonderment of the geography and the life in that unexplored and unknown. Yet the film is not that alone. It covers the humans in those places and the zeal each of them carry in focusing on the agenda they are in.

There is a scientist desperately seeking the meaning of sub-atomic particles. There is a man dedicated his life in knowing about Penguins and their odd behaviour of going towards a goal that pretty much would cause their death. There is zoologists, physicists, linguists and several of many experts in their field digging through this thick ground of ice for something beyond their life. The need to understand and to depart from the regularity of the world, these are the people define the future world in unpredictable manner. Their idea of partying seem to be more cool than one can ever attain or imagine. Think about playing a performance on top of a trailer in the bottom most part of the world.

“Encounters at the End of the World” is not your usual film or for that matter not even your usual documentary. There is no agenda and there is no propaganda. It exists in its purest form and leaves us thinking on these characters, possibilities and pondering through the minds of our own. It is philosophical yet simplistic. It is deep yet plays on the shallowness of great visual to provide the magnanimity of the life we have. While it might not make emotions with exuberance, it is a film unlike any other.

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