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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Nature > Encounters At The End Of The World (2007/Werner Herzog Documentary/Image Blu-ray + DVD-Video)

Encounters At The End Of The World (2007/Werner Herzog Documentary/Image Blu-ray + DVD-Video)

 

Picture: B-††† Sound: B/B-††† Extras: B †††Film: B

 

 

For most filmmakers, especially aging ones, their best work is usually behind them.Although I am perhaps a bigger fan of Werner Herzog than some of my fellow critics, the one common trend that I am seeing with some of his most recent work is that of a mature filmmaker.His earlier work was often inconsistent, although highly acclaimed works like what we covered in his box set, review here is important to his overall body of work.In his earlier years, he was a youthful filmmaker with the world in front of him and often times he was so involved with a project that it became an extension of the on-set temperaments, which can be seen in Fitzcarraldo for example, or better yet the documentary Burden of Dreams.

 

In recent years Herzog seems to be doing documentaries about the world we live in, the interesting and peculiar stories that unfold on their own, like 2005ís The Grizzly Man a story about a man named Timothy Treadwell who lives 13 summers with the grizzlies of Alaska before being killed along with his girlfriend by a rogue bear.Herzog handles the material not only as a filmmaker, but as a compassionate human being staring into a tragedy and letting that story remain at the center of the film.In 2007ís Encounters at the End of the World, Herzog travels to Antarctica with cameras rolling to reveal yet another mystery, this time the location itself, itís beautiful offerings, and strangely enough itís inhabitants.

 

While the scenery of Antarctica is certainly one of true splendor and majesty, itís also fascinating to see Herzog capture some of the individuals who have made Antarctica their temporary home as they brave the harsh conditions and survive in perhaps one of the cruelest, yet beautiful places on Earth.Like The Grizzly Man, and some of Herzogís other amazing work like Signs of Life (reviewed here), he treats the material with a fresh perspective and eye.He finds the small details and exposes even the most peculiar parts and finds something interesting to say about them.This film is no exception and while it might not appeal to all tastes, itís worth a look.

 

Presented in a 1.78 X 1 anamorphic transfer the film looks raw and the handheld camera work gives the film itís natural, unpolished look.Even the 1080p high definition transfer on the Blu-ray is only able to reach certain limits due to the nature of the photography.Despite the grain structure and its rough disposition, itís still a beautiful film that really captures both the beauty and the severity of the landscape.

 

Likewise the audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 for the DVD and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 for the Blu-ray, but because of the wind and other conditions, audio quality is inconsistent and rarely a sonic treat.This has nothing to do with the production on these discs, but the source material, which was always meant to be raw, not produced.

This is a 2-disc set with quite a decent array of extras starting with a really fine commentary track by Herzog that adds even more interest to the story as well as behind the story type of material that enhances the production; he is joined by the producer and cinematographer for this session.There are also a few featurettes that explore some of the challenges of filmmaking that were not mentioned inside the film and expands upon some of the footage even further, plus there is an interview with Herzog that is conducted by Jonathan Demme, this might be Demmeís best work in a long time as he has been on a string of poor films!The trailer is also included rounding off a really exceptional release for a film that should get some serious exposure, while both the DVD and Blu-ray are perhaps less pristine in picture and sound than some of the more polished productions (i.e. Planet Earth, also reviewed elsewhere on this site), the Blu-ray is still a notch above and the better of the two as expected, even if only marginally.

 

 

-†† Nate Goss


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