Encounters at the End of the World

2007 | Documentary | 99 minutes | English


Director/Writer Werner Herzog lived for a period of time at the McMurdo Research station, the largest habitation on Antarctica. While there, Herzog interviewed not only famed scientists and arctic experts but also maintenance and support workers. Herzog and cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger visited Mount Erebus and interviewed volcanologists. They also managed to enter and film tunnels deep below the South Pole that were carved from the snow and ice. In conclusion, they filmed the launching of a giant helium balloon used in the neutrino detection project.

Major participants: Werner Herzog (Narrator/Writer/Director) / Douglas MacAyeal (Iceberg Geologist) / Olav Oftedal (Seal Camp Zoologist) / Henry Kaiser (Research Diver) / Samuel Bowser (Cell Biologist) / Jan Pawlowski (Zoologist) / David Ainley (Penguin Scientist) / Peter Gorham (Physicist)
Why Stream This Film?
The National Science Foundation approves and supervises all film productions in Antarctica. Herzog received a grant from the Artists and Writers Program which allowed him to avoid any oversight from the NSF. The result? We have one of the most remarkable nature/documentaries ever made.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 94%
  • Metacritic Score: 80
  • Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Documentary
  • #1, Top Ten List, The Philadelphia Inquirer and VARIETY
  • National Board of Review: Listed, Top Five Documentaries
Werner Herzog is like no other filmmaker, and to return to him is to be welcomed into a world vastly larger and more peculiar than the one around us. The underwater photography alone would make a film, but there is so much more. Consider the men who study the active volcanoes of Antarctica, and sometimes descend into volcanic fumes that open to the surface, although they must take care  not to be doing so when the volcano erupts.
Roger Ebert


Few filmmakers make the end of days seem as hauntingly beautiful as Werner Herzog does, or as inexorable. In this documentary, this professional madman and restlessly curious filmmaker travels to the blinding white of the Antarctic, where he meets melancholic scientists, brooding journeymen and various poets of the soul, who ensconced in the American headquarters, McMurdo Station. They have traveled so far beyond the familiar coordinates, so far beyond traditional cities, suburbs and banal existence, that they might as well be on another planet.
Manohla Dargis

The New York Times

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