Tuesday, December 23, 2008

ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD (Werner Herzog, 2007, USA) Werner Herzog excavates the human condition, metaphorically buried under the thick Antarctic ice, revealing those exhumed from cultural bondage, those chosen few who have become the sensory organs of an awakening universe. Here at the end of the world, Herzog discovers a new spiritual continent as intelligent and profound people drift towards this elusive abyss; sometimes wandering without purpose towards some primal goal, like a little lost penguin whose doom is certain. Layered with his philosophical and erudite musings, Herzog shows us the alien landscape of our on world both internal and external: from the lurking horror of a monstrous starfish to a freakish frozen cod, or the gruff stoicism of a Biologist to the upside-down frozen sky of the Dante’s underworld, we experience the painful beauty of life. Superficially, Herzog dictates the dichotomy between the sublime environment and our ecological rape of Antarctica: the film begins with a squat steel and aluminum monstrosity gouged into the ice and snow, habitat for hundreds of travelers. But Herzog is concerned with deeper meanings, knowing that we must change the world in which we live and that this same planet must also change us. And here is where we find the film’s warm beating heart, its living magma, in the companionship and reasoning of seemingly lost people who have been altered by this awesome landscape. He seeks out disparate types; scientists, a forklift driver, a welder, a truck driver, and frames them in a warm celluloid embrace: his sometimes-obtuse questions are presented to generate an emotional response, to observe a reaction, to understand, but not to hold the individual in contempt. Though Werner Herzog captures some interesting and inspiring images, this is truly a film about human beings and our passionate relationship to Mother Earth. Unfortunately, we seem to always hurt the one we love the most. (B+)

No comments: