Some filmmakers will, from time to time, select a project based on its location’s appeal — after all, what was A Good Year but a good excuse for Ridley Scott (and Russell Crowe) to eat, drink and be merry in Provence? Then there’s über-rugged director Werner Herzog, whose typical venue of choice (leech-filled jungle, dangerous whitewater rapids) renders per diem cash as worthless, or invaluable, as toilet paper.
In his striking new documentary Encounters at the End of the World (limited theatrical release begins 6/11), Herzog ventures to McMurdo Station in Antarctica, where a ship-of-fools community of dreamy truck drivers, plumbers and Ph.D.’s study and labor in perpetual sunlight — and danger. These latter-day Shackletons have a message for us carbon emitters to the north, and it’s a familiar one: We’re doomed! But despite only brief appearances in the film by (suicidal) penguins, Herzog’s unsentimentally heartfelt narrative voice (part Dalai Lama, part California’s governor), along with some eye-popping photography, should make the medicine go down a lot easier, and Encounters well worth the trip. Run, don’t drive.
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