Encounters at the End of the World

Synopsis: 'Werner Herzog' takes his camera to Antarctica where we meet the odd men and women who have dedicated their lives to furthering the cause of science in treacherous conditions. A scientist studies neutrinos, which are everywhere, yet elusive; he likens them to spirits. A researcher's nighttime performance art includes contorting her body into a luggage bag. A survival guide teaches his students to survive white-out conditions by wearing cartoon-face buckets over their heads. Animal researchers milk mother seals as part of their study. Volcanologists offer advice on what to do when a volcano erupts. A pipefitter shows us the anomaly in his hands that he says are a sign he descended from Atzec royalty. A former Colorado banker drives what he has christened Ivan the Terra Bus. An underwater diver shows his colleagues DVDs of apocalyptic sci-fi films like Them! (1954). And -- though Herzog declares he's not "making another film about penguins" -- we meet a penguin researcher who answers the
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Werner Herzog
Production: ThinkFilm
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 14 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
99 min

WERNER HERZOG These images taken

under the ice of the Ross Sea in Antarctica

were the reason

I wanted to go to this continent

The pictures were taken by a friend of mine,

one of these expert divers

The best connection is on

military planes out of New Zealand,

loaded with chained-down parts

of polar stations

Most of the passengers had tucked

into their laptops and their books,

and many of them were sleeping

Who were the people I was going to meet

in Antarctica at the end of the world?

What were their dreams?

We flew into the unknown,

a seemingly endless void

I was surprised that

I was even on this plane

The National Science Foundation

had invited me to Antarctica,

even though I left no doubt

that I would not come up

with another film about penguins

My questions about nature,

I let them know, were different

I told them I kept wondering

why is it that human beings put on

masks or feathers to conceal their identity?

And why do they saddle horses

and feel the urge to chase the bad guy?

Hi-yo, Silver!

HERZOG And why is it that certain species

of ants keep flocks of plant lice as slaves

to milk them for droplets of sugar?

I asked them why is it

that a sophisticated animal like a chimp

does not utilize inferior creatures?

He could straddle a goat

and ride off into the sunset

Despite my odd questions, I found myself

landing on the ice runway at McMurdo

For most of the austral spring and summer,

which lasts from October through February,

planes can land on

the 8-foot thick ice of the Ross Sea

In the distance,

the mountains of the Transantarctic range

McMurdo itself is situated on an island

The Ross Sea is the largest bay

in the continent

This bay alone covers the size

of the state of Texas

On this very same frozen ocean,

the early explorer's ship

got wedged into moving ice flows

Here, Shackleton's expedition

evacuates their vessel,

which would later come to ruin,

leaving them stranded there

Everything in this expedition was doomed,

including the first ancestor

of the snowmobile

The idea was too big for

the technical possibilities 100 years ago

At that time,

every step meant incredible hardship

The first thing that caught my eye

upon landing

was the humongous bus and its driver

- We're clearing the apron now, thank you

- MAN Hey, you're welcome

This is lvan the Terra Bus

It's one of seven in the world,

weighs 67,000 pounds

and is the largest vehicle on the continent

What do you do when you are

back home? Are you a taxi driver?

I am not a taxi driver at home

Before I came to Antarctica,

I was actually a banker in Colorado

And after two years there,

I changed my pace a little bit

and decided to help

the people of Guatemala,

so I joined the Peace Corps, and there

I worked in small business development

Just realized that the world's

not all about money

ROWLAND Where I lived in Guatemala

was in the northern part

It's a Kekchi Mayan village, 99% Mayan,

and therefore nobody spoke Spanish

I had to learn the Mayan dialect, Kekchi

When I first moved to Chisec, I was just out

on a normal walk, and before I knew it

I had six people with machetes

chasing me down, wanting to talk to me

Turns out the little brother

told them I was there to steal children

I was, however, not there to steal children

They took me back to my My judge

and jury was the 14-year-old boy in the town

who could speak both Spanish and Kekchi

Luckily, they let me go,

and we ended up being

great friends over the two years

The jury acquitted you

- I was acquitted I made it out of there

But it could have been dangerous

It is, it is

And, you know, a story not too long ago is,

a lady was just taking a picture of a child,

you know, the same type of group of people

with machetes, and she wasn't so fortunate

- She didn't make it out

- What happened to her?

She was killed, by a machete

HERZOG Approaching McMurdo Station,

the largest American base,

in fact the largest settlement in Antarctica

Right there is Captain Scott's hut,

built in 1902

HERZOG During the austral summer,

about 1,000 people live here

experiencing a strange state,

five months of no nighttime

McMurdo serves as a logistical hub

and provides fixed laboratory facilities

for research

All the decisions about scientific projects

are the domain of my host,

the National Science Foundation

Day to day logistics

are run by a defense contractor

I had been told by some

disgruntled former inhabitants

that they ran things

in the spirit of a correctional facility

Actually, they were decent people,

just too concerned for my personal safety

Of course, I did not expect

pristine landscapes

and men living in blissful harmony

with fluffy penguins,

but I was still surprised to find McMurdo

looking like an ugly mining town

filled with Caterpillars

and noisy construction sites

Who are the people

who drive the heavy machinery,

and what brought them to Antarctica?

(LAUGHING) It's a long story

I've explored many different

lands of the mind and many worlds of ideas,

and I started before I even knew

how to read and write

My grandmother was reading

The Odyssey and The Iliad to me,

so I started my journey in my fantasy,

before I even knew the means

of accomplishing it, but my mind

and my psyche was ready for it

I was already traveling with Odysseus

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Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog (German: [ˈvɛɐ̯nɐ ˈhɛɐ̯tsoːk]; born 5 September 1942) is a German screenwriter, film director, author, actor, and opera director. Herzog is a figure of the New German Cinema, along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff, Werner Schröter, and Wim Wenders. Herzog's films often feature ambitious protagonists with impossible dreams, people with unique talents in obscure fields, or individuals who are in conflict with nature.French filmmaker François Truffaut once called Herzog "the most important film director alive." American film critic Roger Ebert said that Herzog "has never created a single film that is compromised, shameful, made for pragmatic reasons, or uninteresting. Even his failures are spectacular." He was named one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine in 2009. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Encounters at the End of the World" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 27 May 2024. <https://www.scripts.com/script/encounters_at_the_end_of_the_world_7644>.

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