Encounters at the End of the World (2008)
Werner Herzog wrote, directed, and narrated this latest installment of his cinematic career that has had as its focus the exploration of extreme geographic places and the people who inhabit them. Nature is his stage, but human nature is his plot. When the National Science Foundation invited him to the South Pole, you knew he would not disappoint with another film about cute penguins. The trip begins with a 2,000-mile flight from New Zealand to McMurdo Station, where 1,000 people endure harsh weather, ice 9,000 feet thick, and five months of summer when there is no night. The scientific station looks and feels like a run down mining town. After emergency preparedness training, Herzog is off and running. We meet a banker turned bus driver, a forklift driver who was a philosopher, a glaciologist, biologists, and volcanologists atop 12,000-foot Mt. Arabis. They are all "professional dreamers" of one sort or another who live, literally and metaphorically, "off the margin of the map." As in many of his films, the collision between technological society, the natural environment, and the survivability of humanity looms large for Herzog.