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Encounters at the End of the World [Blu-ray]


(Werner Herzog, 2007)



Review by Gary Tooze



Video: Image Entertainment



Region: 'A'

Feature Runtime: 1:40:43

Chapters: 24

Feature film disc size: 22.2 Gig

One dual-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 18th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p , MPEG-4 AVC


English: 5.1 DTS HD Master (lossless), DD English 5.1 TrueHD,  PCM 2.0

Feature: English (SDH), Spanish and none


Audio commentary by Werner Herzog, producer Henry Kaiser, and cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger
"Under the Ice" (35:41 in HD!)
"Over the Ice" (10:03 in HD!)
"Slide Guitar and Exorcism at the South Pole" (11:45 in HD!)
"Seal Men" (28:45 in HD!)
Conversation: Jonathan Demme and Werner Herzog (1:07:01 in SD)

Werner Herzog talks with Rob Robbins + Henry Kaiser (18:08 in HD!)
Theatrical trailer


Product Description: Welcome to Antarctica – like you’ve never experienced it. You’ve seen the extraordinary marine life, the retreating glaciers and, of course, the penguins, but leave it to award-winning iconoclastic filmmaker Werner Herzog to be the first to explore the South Pole’s most fascinating inhabitants … humans. In this one-of-a-kind documentary, Herzog turns his camera on a group of remarkable individuals, “professional dreamers” who work, play and struggle to survive in a harsh landscape of mesmerizing, otherworldly beauty – perhaps the last frontier on earth.




The Film:

Herzog's method makes the movie seem like it is happening by chance, although chance has nothing to do with it. He narrates as if we're watching movies of his last vacation -- informal, conversational, engaging. He talks about people he met, sights he saw, thoughts he had. And then a larger picture grows inexorably into view. McMurdo is perched on the frontier of the coming suicide of the planet. Mankind has grown too fast, spent too freely, consumed too much, and the ice cap is melting, and we shall all perish. Herzog doesn't use such language, of course; he is too subtle and visionary. He is nudged toward his conclusions by what he sees. In a sense, his film journeys through time as well as space, and we see what little we may end up leaving behind us. Nor is he depressed by this prospect, but only philosophical. We came, we saw, we conquered, and we left behind a frozen fish.



His visit to Antarctica was not intended, he warns us at the outset, to take footage of "fluffy penguins." But there are some penguins in the film, and one of them embarks on a journey that haunts my memory to this moment, long after it must have ended...

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun Times located HERE


Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Pretty spectacular DV-to-Blu-ray image. it is one of the best I have ever seen despite being 1080i. The image even shows some strong depth and magnificent detail and colors. The visual quality is so strong it ends-up being hypnotic and you tend to pay less attention to the narration. Technically it is dual-layered with the feature size being a reasonable 22.2 Gig. There is no evidence of DNR or edge enhancements but there is some minor, and inconsequential, noise. Obviously, being digital - we have no grain. There are no strong, or even subtle, weaknesses. The Blu-ray image is extremely impressive and can be used for demonstration purposes.


















Audio & Music:  
Image Entertainment have added some healthy options -
a 5.1 DTS HD Master, a standard 5.1 and a stereo PCM 2.0 track. I tested all three but, obviously, stuck with the DTS. The film doesn't have an excessive amount of use for the surround, but it has some appreciative moments with wind blowing, seal calls, and other natural elements that gracefully touch down through the rear speakers. There is some original music by Henry Kaiser and David Lindley (a lot of guitar) but I really enjoyed the Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Choir music during one specific underwater diving sequence. It was so majestic and pure. There are optional subtitles offered in
English or Spanish.


There is an occasionally amusing audio commentary with Werner Herzog, producer Henry Kaiser, and cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger. A lot on production and Herzog could expand on some of the themes and elements not fully covered in the documentary. There are 4 featurettes and an 'interview' - all in 1080 HD. Probably the most interesting for many will be the hour long conversation, in SD, between Jonathan Demme and Werner Herzog. It is very relaxed and laid-back. Perfect for those keen on the director and the film content/production. There is also a theatrical trailer.



Bottom line:
The film is as prosaic as one might expect from Herzog - perhaps one that I enjoyed the most of his documentary work. With a backdrop of Antarctica - it is really about human beings - our proclivities and idiosyncrasies. It never preaches too heavily on global warming although the topic is broached by a few participants. Image and audio-wise this
can be jaw-dropingly strong as, hopefully, the screen captures above will indicate. Yes, we whole-heartedly endorse.


Gary Tooze

November 15th, 2008



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
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Gary W. Tooze






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