Sunday, June 29, 2008


Werner Herzog's Antarctica documentary Encounters at the End of the World currently rates an impressive 8.8 at IMDB, with an extended run at the Film Forum. Owen Gleiberman gave it an A at Entertainment Weekly. So really, is there anything I can add to the chorus of cheers for the film, which I also enjoyed?

Well, as a longtime admirer of Ross McElwee, I was struck by how similar Herzog's film is to McElwee's films. Mind you, I'm not criticizing Herzog or suggesting that the approaches are anything close to identical. (McElwee tends to be more of a presence in his movies.) I'm just noting that both Herzog and McElwee document their fascinating journeys and the unusual people they meet in the style of a wryly humorous memoir-film with extremely serious undertones. It's an appealing formula, pulled off very well by both directors.

Here's a trailer for Herzog's Encounters.

Source (1:51)

And here's a selection from McElwee's Sherman's March. It isn't a perfect illustration of the point I'm making, but it's pretty interesting in its own right.

Source (4:28)

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