Werner Herzog’s new documentary about Antarctica, Encounters at the End of the World, is worth it just to hear his voice decry such “abominations” as “yoga classes and exercise rooms” at the Antarctic Murdo Bay research station, but the real charm of the film is the philosophical soft touch about the kind of people who gravitate to the South Pole, people who are looking for the edge of the world. There’s a great metaphor about a doomed penguin and those people, even if Herzog insists he told the National Science Foundation people he would not make another film “about penguins.” He’s on a role here in his later years, having made three other knockout films in the last decade: Rescue Dawn, Grizzly Man, and The White Diamond. (I think there are others as well.) Where E and I (and Lili, two-year-old wunderkind) have been living for the last year, my second home, is Westcliffe, Colorado, beautiful and otherworldly in its own way. It has one of the lowest population densities in the country. (Back in the 1980s I lived in Jersey City, which has one of the highest population densities: I like it here better.) We have bears and, most recently, mountain lions in our yard. Here’s a jpeg of lion tracks we found minutes from our back yard:
The ruler in the photo is for scale, six inches long. The paw prints are almost five inches wide!
I first saw the cougar in the fall, while out chopping wood. A brief glimpse, but it was something. We found small cat tracks mingled in with these large ones, so it might have been carrying a cub. We live on a mountainside called Hermit Basin, and both think of ourselves as hermits of sorts. But with satellite TV and Wifi, it’s a rather pampered hermit existence. We relate to the loners who like the isolation and beauty of Antarctica. Herzog is a genius in his own way, and even acted in a great little gem, Incident at Loch Ness.
Here’s a full-fledged review of Encounters at the End of the World in the London Times: