31 July 2008 | LaFeeChartreuse
Not your average science documentary
Encounters at the End of the World is a quirky and interesting film, definitely a departure from your average dry science documentary or eye-candy nature film, though it has elements of both.
It focuses predominantly on the odd collection of people drawn to live in an Antarctic research station, and to a slightly lesser degree on the oddness of the region itself, and the bizarre bits of scientific trivia that can be found there. Then there the bonus meanderings about the ultimate doom of humanity and whether we originally emerged from the sea onto land to escape the "horror" of marine ecosystems.
Many of its parts are fascinating, but for me, it didn't quite come together as a whole. It drifted in a lot of different directions, but seemed overall to be lacking in focus a bit. There were also a couple of elements that disturbed me a little - one was the inconsistency of talking about how humanity is destroying itself one moment, and then bashing "tree huggers and whale huggers" the next. I guess it's OK to notice that we're damaging the world, but not to try and do something about it? The other was that in some cases he seemed to be going out of his way to depict the people he interviewed in embarrassing ways, with things like leaving the camera lingering on them after the interview appeared to be finished, as they stood nervously, apparently trying to figure out if it was over or not.
But on the whole I would recommend it -- the flaws are offset by some impressive visuals (especially the underwater footage), dry humour, interesting ideas to ponder, and a really great soundtrack by Henry Kaiser and David Lindley, which work very well with the oddness of the content.