Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. 100
    It is a poem of oddness and beauty.
  2. The stunning images aren't enough for Herzog, though. He wants us to see how these quirky researchers, in their lust to explore, are acting out a drive as primitive as nature: the need to break away from the world in order to find it.
  3. 100
    Werner Herzog is a stranger in a strange land as soon as he gets out of bed in the morning: in this travelogue of Antarctica, his perverse curiosity and zest for the harshest extremes of nature transform what might have been a standard TV special into an idiosyncratic expression of wonder.
  4. A supremely cranky and lyrical feat.
  5. Like many of Mr. Herzog's movies, fiction and nonfiction, Encounters at the End of the World itself has the quality of a dream: it's at once vivid and vague, easy to grasp and somehow beyond reach.
  6. Takes you places an ordinary documentary filmmaker might’ve gone to yet missed completely.
  7. Through Herzog's eyes it is a desolate, strangely beautiful frozen Edenish hell where the planet, having shaken out its pockets, lets the loners, fanatics and cosmologist-crackpots fall to bottom.
  8. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    A deranged penguin is seen racing toward his certain doom amid the crags of a mountain range. It may not be "Happy Feet," but Herzog has made a penguin movie after all.
  9. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Does Antarctica attract dreamers or create them? It's a thread that runs throughout the film.
  10. All this is as fascinating as it is humbling, even when Herzog ventures a little too far down eccentricity's back alley.
  11. An engaging and generous profile of the fascinating folks who have chosen to live at the end of the world.
  12. Reviewed by: Don R. Lewis
    I also think Herzog is making a case for those crazy enough to follow their dreams, even when they take you to the end of the earth. Literally.
  13. Reviewed by: Mark Olsen
    The images captured by Herzog and cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger are dazzling all on their own, finding the disorienting psychedelia that is nature at its weirdest.
  14. It's as much fun to anticipate what he's (Herzog) going to say as it is to appreciate the snowy landscapes, belching volcanoes and mustachioed seals before his lens. And what could have been a conventional travelogue becomes a sort of ruminative odyssey of the mind.
  15. 75
    Encounters may lack the power of, say, the Herzog doc "Grizzly Man," because it has no bigger-than-life character at its nexus, but it does confirm the filmmaker as an iconoclastic master.
  16. An enjoyable example of this extraordinary director's documentary work.
  17. 75
    A sort of distracted, freewheeling form of inquiry and observation drives Encounters At The End Of The World, a loosely constructed documentary that seems to have been made on a whim.
  18. Retains considerable entertainment value on the strength of Herzog's never-dull, very personal narrating style.
  19. Midway through, an eerier theme creeps in, all the more powerful for Herzog's lack of insistence. By the "end of the world" he means the end of the world.
  20. 70
    Perhaps because Herzog is approaching old-master status, Encounters at the End of the World skews toward the observational. As in "Grizzly Man," his 2005 portrait of a deranged bear lover, Herzog seems at least as fascinated with other people's obsessions as his own.
  21. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    It's a loosely bound collection of miscellany filmed at the McMurdo Station, a 1,000-person settlement of researchers in Antarctica, during the five-month "austral summer" of round-the-clock sunlight. Herzog was sent to Antarctica by the National Science Foundation with carte blanche to make whatever movie he wanted--all he could tell them for sure was that it wouldn't involve penguins.
  22. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    Resultant picture -- one of Herzog's best and most purely enjoyable -- may lack the built-in curio factor of "Grizzly Man."
  23. 67
    You get the impression that Herzog believes wholeheartedly the planet will be better off without us. Nosferatu that we have proven ourselves to be, he may be right.
  24. 67
    It's Herzog-light, in a way -- more travelogue than dissection. But it's filled with small riches, not least of which is the director's amazing narration. Can't you just imagine him reading "Green Eggs and Ham"?
  25. Creating a hypnotically digressive travelogue, Herzog wanders from soul to soul, asking deceptively mild questions to potent effect.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 20 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 8
  2. Negative: 2 out of 8
  1. Sep 6, 2010
    I watched this documentary and was appalled that a filmmaker could take a subject matter this interesting into an terrible film. It made very little sense and had no real point, despite the filmmakers repeated ham-fisted attempts to relate it to some overarching philosophy. His 'dry sense of humor' as some put it, consisted mainly of him asking scientists insipid questions about gay penguins wasting both their time and mine as a viewer.

    I was even more surprised to see that it had received so many awards and positive reviews.

    The one redeeming feature of this documentary is that it contains some incredible footage, and interviews with some great people which even this hack couldn't entirely destroy.

    When it comes right down to it I would actually recommend this film to people. If you manage to ignore the stupid interviewer and the poor shot selection there is some useful insight into a rarely seen side - not of Antarctica, but of the people who work there.
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