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But why?
February 19, 2013 8:48 PM   Subscribe

Dr Ainley, is there such a thing as insanity among penguins? What makes a penguin abandon its life and quest into the heart of Antarctica? What is a life well-lived for a penguin, anyway? What makes a human spend a year in a frozen wasteland? Is scientific curiosity kin to the derangement of the penguin? A short clip from Werner Herzog's excellent film, Encounters at the End of the World.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot (24 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
THAT WAS THE WORST THING

thanks for posting
posted by rebent at 8:52 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


One of the saddest scenes from any movie ever. Ah, Werner...
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:00 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Every once in a while a penguin has to sacrifice himself to prevent the Second Impact.
posted by hellojed at 9:02 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


While doing some research, I found an article (let me know if you want the pdf) about penguin fasting and starvation. Apparently, penguins often fast and when they do so, the isotopic signatures of their body tissues change to the extent that, since they are basically metabolizing their own tissue to survive, they move up a trophic level. Craziness! Anyway, after reading that article, I've never been able to watch that scene the same way because I imagine the poor little penguin metabolizing himself all the way to the center of Antarctica :-(
posted by ChuraChura at 9:07 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have always loved this clip (and just about anything Herzog), but as anyone who has seen March of the Penguins can tell you, it's likely just a penguin migrating too early or too late. Penguins normally troop back and forth a good 60-70 mi between the ocean and their inland breeding grounds one or more times a year (depending on the sex of the penguin), and the healthy ones have more than enough fat reserves to last the long journey and back. That little tike is probably not succumbing to the madness of existence. He's just chronologically-challenged.
posted by dephlogisticated at 9:10 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I watched that movie a while ago during a month long 'let me watch every single nature documentary on the internet' kick, not knowing it was a Werner Herzog movie, or anything special at all. It's so much better than every other nature documentary, it's like the rest aren't even really trying.
posted by empath at 9:10 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


dephlogisticated: “That little tike is probably not succumbing to the madness of existence. He's just chronologically-challenged.”

There's a difference?
posted by koeselitz at 9:14 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I kind of want to edit all of his dialogue there over the part of Django where he tells Django the legend of Broomhilde.
posted by neuromodulator at 9:19 PM on February 19, 2013


He really is the master of that kind of juxtaposition. Forcing subjects, and the viewers, to address questions that may be uncomfortable through a roundabout way. Asking questions about ourselves by proxy. In his mini documentary on The Killers, he is ostensibly doing concert footage of a show of their hometown of Vegas. It quickly turns into the band posing, in one of those awkward Hertzog tableaux vivants, in front of animatronic singing robots in some sort of faux gold rush ghost town. I don't think Hertzog is unkind enough to compare the band to animitrons, just position them and watch them sing, but I think he would question the nature of performance. He would certainly compare Las Vegas to the ersatz ghost town, a fully constructed simulacrum.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:20 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite clips from what might be my favorite movie.
posted by Corduroy at 9:22 PM on February 19, 2013


Also the soundtrack to this film is, I think, perfect (and if someone can find a copy to buy I would be most appreciative, I can't find a legal or illegal copy anywhere).
posted by Corduroy at 9:28 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


That little tike is probably not succumbing to the madness of existence

One of the scientists probably explained that. For Hertzog, the facts may contradict the deeper truth
posted by Ad hominem at 9:30 PM on February 19, 2013


Dephlogisticated, March of the Penguins is about Emperor penguins; these are Adelies. Adelie penguins make nests on land, out of rocks, in contrast to Emperor penguins who hang out on the ice and hold their eggs on their feet. Adelies are also much smaller and, arguably, cuter.

Apparently Adelie penguins migrate even further than Emperors, although they seem to let the ice floes do some of the moving for them. So perhaps even if that little guy gets pretty far off course, he'll be able to make his way back. The Dry Valleys (which are in the mountains he seems to be headed toward) contain the mummies of a lot of off-course seals, but not many penguins, so they seem to run into trouble less often. I heard tell of some research groups in the Dry Valleys that saw lost penguins, but even then the penguins may make their way back out.

Penguins do tend to be pretty curious (one time while we were taking measurements out on the sea ice we attracted an audience of fifteen Emperors, who hung out and watched us for the entire day) so it's possible this one just spotted something he wanted to check out.
posted by fermion at 10:21 PM on February 19, 2013 [12 favorites]


Oh shit I already watched this once as part of the whole show no way I'm watching just that bit by itself again. What's next, a supercut from the Saw series of just people screaming in pain?
posted by benito.strauss at 10:32 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


"...but why?"
posted by From Bklyn at 11:09 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


One of the saddest scenes from any movie ever.

It's sad partly because Herzog is using it as an analogy for the human condition. In the rest of the film he spends time interviewing scientists and antarctic base staff. They're weird people, and there's a strong sense that they too wandered south and got lost. However, sadness isn't my strongest reaction to this. A penguin walking into the mountains is eldritch. It's spooky.

Herzog himself once hauled a steamship up a hill in the middle of the Amazon and almost killed several crew members doing it. Herzog is strongly attracted to people who are willing to risk their lives in pursuit of incomprehensible goals. I think I can see why. The sacrifice demands an explanation. Even if the explanation is madness we want to understand the meaning of the delusion.

There's nothing worth having at the summit of Everest but it is littered with human bones. Why?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:40 PM on February 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


Corduroy - does this help?

Not the soundtrack as such, but
A unique, live improvisation recorded June 8, 2008 at 21 Grand in Oakland. The occasion was billed as a sneak preview screening celebrating Werner Herzog's Encounters At The End Of The World, which Kaiser produced, partially filmed and provided music for. This performance, over 35 minutes in length, is a live improvisational score, played to deleted underwater scenes from the film. Henry calls it "Under The Ice.":
posted by hap_hazard at 12:25 AM on February 20, 2013


.
posted by robcorr at 12:26 AM on February 20, 2013


Unhappy Feet.
posted by Prince Lazy I at 1:40 AM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Do not disturb or hold up the Herzog." unless you are Kinski, of course.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:56 AM on February 20, 2013


This performance, over 35 minutes in length, is a live improvisational score, played to deleted underwater scenes from the film. Henry calls it "Under The Ice.":

I don't usually care about DVD extras, but that video for "Under The Ice" that comes with the Herzog film is really entrancing...
posted by ovvl at 5:30 AM on February 20, 2013


...Kaiser/Underwater footage....
posted by ovvl at 5:43 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the rest of the film he spends time interviewing scientists and antarctic base staff. They're weird people, and there's a strong sense that they too wandered south and got lost.

Heh. Weird, definitely. Lost, no--most of the people I met at McMurdo, including a few who were in Herzog's film, have quite a good sense of who they are and where they are going. It's hard to end up in Antarctica by accident. (Although it is admittedly common to return to Antarctica without quite meaning to--"this is my last season, no, really, I mean it this time" is something of a McMurdo cliche.)
posted by fermion at 1:01 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Werner Herzog reads "Where's Waldo?"

not really herzog
posted by Freen at 7:12 PM on February 20, 2013


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