True or False? 2013: The Expedition to the End of the World



Again, wow! Maybe even a few more exclamation points and a bit of random superlatives.

Beginning the 2012 True/False Film Festival with such an explosive film as ‘The Expedition to the End Of the World‘ was the right choice. And there were a few hundred other folks that probably agreed. This Danish film with subtitles is perhaps opening a door into how science and art can once again thrive while side-by-side observing and documenting nature. If my words are underwhelming, please note that you will not be dissilusioned or dissapointed by taking time to watch this film.

There is a wooden ship. On this ship, which seemed to fit more into a turn-of-the-century Ernest Shackleton expedition to the South Pole, thrives a sortie (or perhaps purposefully not sorted) band of scientists, artists, sailors, photographers (and the never-seen film crew), “boldly going where no man has gone before.” And I mean this quite literally. They take the whole 90 min. traversing ice-bound waters, traveling up a thawing fjord in Greenland where perhaps no one, except stone-age residents, have ventured.

Apparently a National Park, the largest in the world, they somewhat illegally lived off the protected salmon, all the while pontificating and philosophizing on life and where Man fits into the whole picture. Occasionally side expeditions to explore the ice floes or bath in the frigid waters or collect soil and rock samples led the explorers to the far reaches of our planet, which one character dubbed ‘the end of the world’. This film is absolutely brilliant!

This film dazzled the eyes and only took me deeper into its spell as a soil coring drill spun its way to the deep permafrost or as great chunks of ice crash to the water below. These men (and woman) take great pleasure in their stark surroundings, realizing their minuteness in the grandiose scheme of the ever-changing landscape. A landscape that is footnoted by our nomenclature ‘Climate Change’.

“So what if it all melts,” one artist rambles. Humans have always adapted to our changing surroundings and perhaps we hold onto the present too much, he says. Maybe we should have a raft instead of two cars, he adds.

The real separation from civilization is felt – be it almost penetrable as it hangs in air below-deck and in the minds of the explorers as they saunter across the landscape.

This is not an environmentalist film. Far from it. If anything, the collaboration of Metallica music, colored pencil sketches, and fish heads make for a film that sees Man as we are. Whether originating from Mars or a happy accident or divinely created, the men see God around them, whether they recognize this. Several times the men note Biblical allusions and are brough to quoting Biblical connections.  The geochemist in the band of merry men recognizes that when he is digging in the soil, he is actually looking for something inside himself.

So many times my head nodded in agreement or understanding, trying to appreciate where these explorers say in relation to their humanity, as humor, whit, pure honesty, and philosophy come together to portray a microcosm of who we are and where we fit in Creation.

We had seen God in His splendors, heard the test that Nature renders. We had reached the naked soul of man.  —-Ernest Shackleton.


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