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Movie Review: Encounters at the End of the World

Alternate Title: Veni, Vidi, Vanish

Story: Writer, director and narratorWerner Herzog is a unique film maker. His vision tends towards obscure individuals, quirky lifestyles and impossible dreamers. What's not to like? He has received deserved awards and at 65 years of age seems unstoppable.

His latest venture finds him at the end of the world (that is both a literal and figurative title). He is invited by the Discovery Channel and National Science Foundation to research material for a film at McMurdo Research Station. Herzog vows not to make another film about 'fluffy penguins' and I guarantee you that this film is as far from Happy Feet as you can get.

The underwater and cave scenes filmed by director of photography, Peter Zeitlinger, are breathtaking. The accompanying music set the perfect stage for an otherworldly cinematic experience.

Through Herzog, we meet a collection of fascinating people who have decided to do their research at the most formidable place in the world. Some are philosophical, some melancholy and some simply downright odd. We encounter geologists, volcanologists, divers, cooks, drivers, biologists and my favorite was the linguist was proclaims that yes, it is odd for a linguist to be living in a place in the world, where there are no languages. The common thread throughout all of the interviews is, everyone, without preaching, proclaims that the 'end of the world' is a sure thing due to climate change. Yet, it is not a depressing film. Really - I swear.

I was fortunate to travel to Antarctica in 2005. It was the trip of a lifetime. For some of my photos from that trip, check out:

http://www.judithwolfe.com/ANTARCTICA1.html http://www.judithwolfe.com/ANTARCTICA2.html

For the trailer go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ind05ZVOEec

Acting: There is no acting in a documentary.

Predilection: I like Herzog's film and like to see films about Antarctica

Critters: Jellyfish, clams, creepy crawly unidentifiable bottom dwellers, Weddell seals, Adelie Penguins (the most heartbreaking of scenes) and a frozen sturgeon. There is also some file footage of Shackleton's dogs.

Food: An ice creamy product from a machine called Frosty Boy and uneaten popcorn.

Sex Spectrum: It is to cold for sex in Antarctica.

Blatant Product Placement: Not applicable in a documentary.

Soundtrack: The music by Henry Kaiser and David Lindley was perfect.

Opening Titles: I cannot remember any titles at the beginning but I was touched by the fact that the film was dedicated to Roger Ebert (whose long run on TV was ended by Disney yesterday).Visual Art: Astonishing imagery.

Theater Audience: Two young men and us. My friend wanted to know if I could guess when the world might end because there were things she needed to do first and wanted to spend all of her money.

Weather: Baby it's cold outside.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 3

Squirm Scale: I get claustrophobic and the diving scenes were squirmy for me.

Drift Factor: I did not drift at all.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: I doubt it.

Big Screen or Rental: If you can find this on a big screen it would be the way to go.

Length: 100 minutes