Sunday, July 13, 2008

Herzog's Encounters

We saw Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World. The film is about Antarctica and, especially, the people in it. I was a little puzzled by the seeming contradiction between Herzog's negative reference to "tree huggers" and "whale huggers" and later doomsaying remarks that humanity may disappear soon. But as my wife points out, there is a common theme; Herzog cares about the environment mainly insofar as it relates to people.

This humanistic emphasis is evident also in his interviews with scientists about the animals they study. He asks a penguin scientist about penguins being gay or going crazy, and is fascinated at the possibility they show such human-like attributes. When another scientist describes the world of ocean microorganisms as harsh, Herzog links that to humanity as well. He asks if it was to get away from that world that humanity's ancestors left the ocean and evolved on land.

All in all, a very interesting work.

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