UKGFF 14: Expedition to the End of the World


Words: Brody Rossiter
Twitter: @BrodyRossiter

Expedition to the End of the World is a picture which its accompanying press release describes as “a film about the origins of the world, the end of human civilisation, and life on earth once we’re gone”. Suffice it to say, director Daniel Dencik exhibits epic intentions in terms of both the message he wants to relay and the manner in which he wishes to do it.

Bold visuals and an existential aura summon comparisons to the work of Terrence Malick as a schooner full of scientists, artists, and philosophers journey to the rapidly melting massifs of North-East Greenland. Immediately the picture’s Nordic, otherworldly temperament is revealed as a beautiful tracking shot passes over the tranquil grey bath of ocean before roaming over the ship’s dark timber hull and revealing the diminishing ice caps upon its starboard side. Tasteful font silently introduces the roles of those on-board as close up shots reveal their faces – red and ruddy from the extreme cold. Shots depicting the bow breaking through icy barricades are clearly indebted to Herbert G. Ponting’s The Great White Silence – the ill-fated polar voyage a stylistic influence throughout.

the ghostly, fog filled visuals paint the vessel as though it were a Viking longboat silently cutting through the coastal waves of foreign land – however this landscape has already faced much destruction. The picture then moves into a far more explorative, documentary based style of filmmaking; interviews and information momentarily take centre stage between bouts of that highly refined yet innately raw imagery – all underpinned by a foreboding score. It owes much to the awe-inspiring yet sombre nature of an environment in decline, nevertheless, the picture’s cinematography is breath-taking, and the film as a whole is one of the most naturally beautiful to emerge in several years.

Highly ambitious, contemplative, and aesthetically stunning, Expedition to the End of the World is a true cinematic journey filled with engaging characters finally undertaking some of their life-long fantasies and facing untold wonders and truths in the process. A startling piece of filmmaking.

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