The Info List - Encounters At The End Of The World

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ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD is a 2007 American documentary film by Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog
. The film studies people and places in Antarctica
. It was released in North America on June 11, 2008, and distributed by THINKFilm


* 1 Synopsis * 2 Production * 3 Release

* 4 Critical reception

* 4.1 Top ten lists

* 5 Awards * 6 References * 7 External links


Herzog and cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger go to Antarctica
to meet people who live and work there and to capture footage of the continent's unique locations. Herzog's voiceover narration explains that his film will not be a typical Antarctica
film about "fluffy penguins" but will explore the dreams of the people and the landscape. They begin at McMurdo Station
McMurdo Station
and interview some maintenance and support workers as well as iceberg geologist Douglas MacAyeal. They travel next to a nearby seal camp supervised by zoologist Olav Oftedal. Next they join the film's composer/producer, research diver Henry Kaiser , at his diving camp and interview cell biologist Samuel Bowser and zoologist Jan Pawlowski. Kaiser and Bowser stage a rooftop guitar concert.

Herzog and Zeitlinger return to McMurdo for some more interviews and visit the preserved original base of Ernest Shackleton
Ernest Shackleton
. After some brief footage at the South Pole
South Pole
, Herzog interviews penguin scientist David Ainley. This footage includes a shot of a penguin marching in the wrong direction, walking to a certain death in the barren interior of the continent.

Herzog and Zeitlinger next visit Mount Erebus
Mount Erebus
and interview volcanologists. A strange sequence follows which was shot in tunnels deep below South Pole
South Pole
station carved from snow and ice. Various trinkets and mementos, including a can of Russian caviar and a whole frozen sturgeon , are placed in carved-out shelves in the ice walls and preserved by the extremely cold and dry air. On the slope of the volcano, Herzog and Zeitlinger explore ice caves formed by fumaroles .

The film next visits the launch of a giant helium balloon used in a neutrino detection project (ANITA ) and features an interview with physicist Peter Gorham. It concludes with some philosophical words from a maintenance worker and more footage from the fumarole ice caves and Kaiser's dives.


Herzog was drawn to Antarctica
after viewing underwater footage filmed by Henry Kaiser . Kaiser was working on music for Herzog's Grizzly Man and was showing the footage to a friend when Herzog noticed it. Kaiser had been to Antarctica
on scientific diving expeditions, as well as with the National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation
's Antarctic Artists and Writers Program for his "Slide Guitar Around the World" project. Within two years, Herzog had released The Wild Blue Yonder , which made prominent use of Kaiser's footage.

The film was shot in Antarctica
as part of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. The entire film crew consisted of Herzog, who recorded all production sound, and cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger. The two went to Antarctica
without any opportunity to plan filming locations or interview subjects, and had only seven weeks to conceive and shoot their footage. Herzog often met his interview subjects only minutes before he began shooting them.

Filming in Antarctica
is usually overseen by the National Science Foundation's media office, which approves and supervises all film productions. Because of Herzog's grant from the Artists and Writers Program, he was allowed to film with no minders or oversight from the NSF. This allowed them to film the "seal-bagging" footage, which is not typically deemed suitable for public release.

The sound recordings of the seals were produced by Douglas Quin, a renowned sound expert and professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University
Syracuse University
, another recipient of the Antarctic Artists and Writers grant.

The film is dedicated to American critic Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert


The film showed at the 2007 Telluride Film Festival
Telluride Film Festival
, and had its official premiere one week later on September 10 at the Toronto International Film Festival . It also showed in 2008 at the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam
; the Edinburgh International Film Festival ; the Cambridge Film Festival and the Melbourne International Film Festival
Melbourne International Film Festival
. Revolver Entertainment released the film theatrically in the UK from 24 April 2009.

The film showed at 28 March 2008, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
Hong Kong Cultural Centre
, for 2008 Hong Kong International Film Festival ; and on April 30 at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival .


The film received predominately positive reviews from critics. As of September 7, 2013, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes
reported that 94% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 72 reviews — with the consensus that the film "offers a poignant study of the human psyche amid haunting landscapes." Metacritic
reported the film had an average score of 80 out of 100, based on 25 reviews. On January 22, 2009, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Documentary Feature .


The film appeared on several critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008, including the following:

* 1st - Carrie Rickey, The Philadelphia Inquirer
The Philadelphia Inquirer
* 1st - Dennis Harvey, Variety * 2nd - David Ansen , Newsweek
* 4th - Andrew O'Hehir, Salon * 4th - Dana Stevens , Slate * 4th - Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor
The Christian Science Monitor

* 8th - Manohla Dargis , The New York Times
The New York Times
* 9th - Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter
* 10th - Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader * 10th - Richard Corliss
Richard Corliss
, TIME magazine * 10th - Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter


Encounters at the End of the World
Encounters at the End of the World
won the award for Best Documentary at the Edinburgh International Film Festival
Edinburgh International Film Festival
and Special
Prize at Planet Doc Review Festival in Warsaw
(both in 2008).


* ^ A B C D E Film details at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival * ^ Goldstein, Gregg (March 13, 2008). "The Hollywood Reporter". Archived from the original on November 23, 2008. * ^ A B C Herzog, Kaiser, Zeitlinger, DVD audio commentary for Encounters at the End of the World * ^ "Slide Guitar ">"". Chicago Sun-Times. * ^ Roger Ebert, A letter to Werner Herzog * ^ Program of the 2007 Telluride Film Festival
Telluride Film Festival
* ^ Official screening times * ^ * ^ " Encounters at the End of the World
Encounters at the End of the World
Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes
. Retrieved 2008-11-23. * ^ " Encounters at the End of the World
Encounters at the End of the World
(2008): Reviews". Metacritic
. Retrieved 2008-06-13. * ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L "Metacritic: 2008 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic
. Archived from the original on January 2, 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2009.