Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 2007. Discovery Films, Creative Differences Productions, Discovery Channel, Discovery Communications. Screenplay by Werner Herzog. Cinematography by Peter Zeitlinger. Produced by Henry Kaiser. Music by Henry Kaiser, David Lindley. Production Design by Douglas Martin, Bruce McCall. Film Editing by Joe Bini. Academy Awards 2007. Gotham Awards 2008. Independent Spirit Awards 2008. Toronto International Film Festival 2007.
Werner Herzog explores the south pole but promises us that he has not gone there to make another movie about penguins…though it can’t be helped, and eventually he does display them at some point in this absorbing documentary. He also captures the daily life of scientists studying the climate (and climate change), animal and plant life in an effort to better understand our planet and ourselves (and whether or not we can lose weight, in one particular case). There are gorgeous shots of underwater swimming, wonderfully entertaining clips with sea lions and the aforementioned tuxedo birds, and lots of great looks at the effect of the isolation and weather of the south pole on its inhabitants, both human and animal. Herzog loves making films about people on the fringe, and is just as attracted to factual explorations of their lives as he is in his fascinating fictional films.