Encounters at the End of the World

Rated 4.0

Director Werner Herzog, in another of his quirky documentaries, travels to Antarctica to interview some of the scientists, technicians and mechanics who live and work there—all the “loose nuts,” as one puts it, who’ve rolled to the bottom of the world. In his meticulous narration, Herzog warns us that this won’t be “yet another film about penguins,” and he gets an almost perverse pleasure out of staring into abysses, both literal (several Antarctic volcanoes) and figurative (the double entendre of the title). The harsh beauty of the geographic surroundings makes a fitting visual complement to Herzog’s own pessimism, while in a similar frame of mind, the scientists he studies relieve their arduous work in a dangerous landscape by immersing themselves in apocalyptic sci-fi movies from half a century ago.