Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Human Nature meets Mother Nature

Encounters at the End of the World- a great documentary

A review from NYT;
One of the beauties of “Encounters at the End of the World” is that all the furry and floating animals are no more wondrous than the bipeds tramping through and around McMurdo: the linguist turned philosopher, the banker turned bus driver and the female adventurer who, for drama and odd entertainment, likes to have herself zipped up in a carryall bag. (She’s her own baggage.) Mr. Herzog opens his mind, heart and eyes to all these wayfarers who — despite the persistent strain of melancholy that touches each and every person who appears on camera — seem eerily at peace at the bottom of the world. One reason may be that, like Mr. Herzog, more than a few evince a deep-felt pessimism about both the present and the future.

If this were a nature documentary like any other, the casual talk about global warming and other calamities might cast shadows across this bright expanse. But there’s something about Mr. Herzog — including the accidental if now well-practiced comedy that colors even his most dramatic pronouncements — that inevitably keeps his pictures from growing too dark. One reason is beauty, which in his hands has a way of keeping the worst at bay; it is, after all, hard to fully despair in the face of so much of the natural world’s splendors. Another reason, I think, has to do with Mr. Herzog’s seemingly unshakable faith in human beings, who for all their misdeeds at times reach a state of exaltedness. They soar — just like that jellyfish.

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