Thursday, April 30, 2009

DVD Review: Encounters at the End of the World

I saw Encounters at the End of the World at a theater back in September 2008. For a while the DVD has been sitting in my Netflix Queue to rent and I finally got to renting it. The documentary really is not all that special, as the second time around I really began to realize how all over the place Werner Herzog is in this documentary with him covering so many topics. He sort of connects it all, but really there is no real main point that kind of does make it hard to enjoy unless you really have an interest in Antarctica already.

Another thing I noticed is how much Werner Herzog annoys me. He makes some pretty off putting comments in the documentary and kind of rude seeming, such as when he summarizes peoples stories, but what really got me is the stuff in the audio commentary version. The audio commentary is overall interesting with them talking about the making of the documentary and honestly this is better than the actual documentary. Anyways the point is that Werner Herzog comments in the documentary make it seem like he carelessly does not care if his documentary not only does not have a point, but if there are inaccuracies. I do not think they actually admit to any inaccuracies, but the commentary comments include him saying things and then the others correcting him sort of and him just totally brushing it off as it does not matter. It just is a type of attitude that makes it seem like there could be inaccuracies, but at least it is not actually an educational documentary because I certainly would not trust any educational attempt of a documentary from him.

While I no longer feel so strongly about this being a worthwhile Antarctic documentary in terms of good quality, it does still show some interesting aspects of humans in Antarctica. At least the DVD release has some good special features, too. This includes stuff on the first disc with the movie, as well as a bonus disc (note if you rent through Netflix like me that the bonus disc has to be manually added and it does not get added as a set like some multi disc releases do).

The first disc's extras include the audio commentary discussed above, as well as some extra footage that did not make the cut into the final version of the movie. The extra footage includes "Under the Ice," "Over the Ice," and "Seals & Men" that are simply just video footage set to music. It is not that the footage is bad, but the "Under the Ice" one in particular does seem to drag on for a long time (30 minutes, I think). The other two extras are "Dive Locker Interview" and "South Pole Exorcism." These are both good extra footage of Antarctic people interviews that just did not make it into the final cut of the movie.

The bonus disc was a little bit of a disappointing rental. I kind of expected it to have a good amount of content, but it just has an interview with Werner Herzog. The interview is not bad, but if you have already watched the audio commentary most of what Werner Herzog says in the interview has already been heard. The interview also includes a lot of general talking about himself totally unrelated to this specific movie. Basically it just does not fit as being released with this movie and I now see why it is not (or at least why it is a good thing that it is not) automatically included when you add the movie to your Netflix Queue.

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