Encounters at the End of the World

Rated NR

I don’t know whose idea it was to fund a documentary about Antarctica and hand the directing reins to Werner Herzog, but kudos to you, sir or madam. It’s like watching a Discovery Channel special that’s been hijacked by a cranky, existential, German curmudgeon. While Herzog spends some time with the seals, ice and undersea landscapes that make for this kind of documentary, he spends more time looking at the dirt, noise, construction equipment and trippy inhabitants of McMurdo Station. His voiceovers are especially charming, like when he refers to McMurdo’s yoga studio and aerobics classroom as “abominations.” In the end, Herzog has become such an obvious (and, I think, intentional) self-parody of the introspective European intellectual that his film is probably the funniest and most human of the various documentaries on this topic. And, most importantly, it’s not about penguins.

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