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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Movies  |  Good Movies  |  ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD (2007) « previous next »
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Author Topic: ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD (2007)  (Read 359 times)
ulthar
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« on: March 29, 2012, 08:45:00 AM »

We've been watching a LOT of documentaries lately.  We use them to augment schoolwork and just for 'interest.'

Some are pure junk; some are magnificent.

Case in point (not the only example I have, but illustrative) junk:  We recently had the misfortune to watch ARCTIC TALE, which was perhaps the worst "documentary" I've ever seen (I've never watched a Michael Moore production).  One of the writers was a Disney writer who worked on films like THE LION KING.

As a "gee whiz" movie, I guess it's not that bad.  There are animals filmed doing animal-stuff, and voice over narration (provided by Dana Owens) overly anthropomorphizes the actions and motivations of said animals.  The editing was horrible and obviously cut in a way to 'tell a story' that is not really happening.  "Facts" about walrus behavior are presented for which, upon several days of research, I could not confirm.  The only likable "characters" are female, and all the male animals are mean.

The problem is that it *IS* marketed as a documentary.  People, children, will watch this tripe and "learn" things that simply are not true.

In glaring contrast to this drivel, ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD shines as the example documentary film makers should follow.  Directed (and narrated) by Werner Herzog, this film gives a glimpse into the lives of those that work and live in Antarctica.  The cinematography is beautiful and the personal stories compelling and interesting, but what really stands out to me is the matter-of-fact presentation of information left for me to assimilate.

For example, at one point, Herzog focuses on a site plumber who is a native Navajo. His genetics suggest he may be a descendant of Aztec royalty. This man makes the claim that "global warming is real" and professes his "greenness."  Herzog does not comment; he neither agrees or disagrees.  Rather, he leaves it for me to sort out.

What Herzog gives me with this is an incredible gift.  He shows me the life of this man, his work, his family pride and the passion with which he expresses his connection to the world around him.  But Herzog does not step in and give HIS views; he does not make the film about Herzog.  He presents, he documents, he moves on.

Or, take the 'chance meeting' with a fellow who, before going to Antarctica, was an out-of-work linguist.  Herzog shows me the passion this man feels toward the dying languages of the earth and how he tried to study them, only to find his work flew in the face of "accepted academia."  Again, Herzog does not comment, beyond the reminder later in the film "he's here, and he's part of a whole."

I think Herzog presents the Antarctic research and support teams as a metaphor for the greater whole of human society.  We all have a place; we all have value, even if sometimes the "rulemakers" disagree.  Herzog may not say that....that's what *I* think this film is really about.  Again, that's the gift.

I'm so sick of 'documentaries' that hit me over the head with their point, especially when the persuasive speech and rhetorical style don't play by ethical or logical rules.  ENCOUNTERS is the second or third we've watched recently that does not do this; they show the good with the bad, as "documentation" should.

I give it 5 out of 5 without hesitation.
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dean
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« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2012, 09:25:27 AM »


Herzog may be a bit of a nutter at times, but he really excels at this sort of work.  I've heard good things about Encounters, but haven't had seen it yet.  Grizzly Man was pretty good, and My Best Friend is fantastic [though not necessarily appropriate if you're using it to supplement school work.]
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Jack
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« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2012, 07:28:27 AM »

I usually enjoy Herzog's work.  Love the way he simply presents the facts and leaves it to the viewer to think about it and come to their own conclusions.  It is truly sad, in fact downright tragic, that so many documentaries beat you over the head with their point of view.  "Thinking" about the topic is the last thing they want you to do.  I've actually heard college professors who were proud of the fact that 100% of their students agreed with them completely on some topic.  That's just beyond pathetic.

I also enjoyed Grizzly Man, which is another perfect example of Herzog showing all that was good and bad about a person and leaving us to have mixed feeling about him. 
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Mofo Rising
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2012, 07:56:48 PM »

Herzog may be a bit of a nutter at times, but he really excels at this sort of work.  I've heard good things about Encounters, but haven't had seen it yet.  Grizzly Man was pretty good, and My Best Friend is fantastic [though not necessarily appropriate if you're using it to supplement school work.]

Actually, that was My Best Fiend.
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