LIFF27 - Expedition To The End Of The World - Cinema Review

'be prepared for a heady mix of borderline boring, categorically pretentious conversations on our place in the universe and the state of the human race, spattered in between the predictably lovely photography'

During the early set-up to Expedition To The End Of The World, one of the 'artists' on a journey to the undiscovered waters of Greenland's North, in the company of some scientists, trips and accidentally discharges the gun he is carrying into the air. At this moment and a handful of others, it is possible to sit and wonder whether you are watching a Mockumentary of This Is Spinal Tap proportions, or something more 'real', complete with real levels of klutz.

In several segments, the artists who make up half of the crew appear to be setup to become the laughing stock of the journey but then, the scientists eventually don't fare much better either. One wears a distinctly un-scientific t-shirt which reads, and I'm paraphrasing here, 'Fuck everything and become a pirate', whilst another spends a spectacularly long time preparing a research fishing net, only to catch nothing whatsoever, before proceeding to destroy his boatplane.

If that sounds like fun then be prepared for a heady mix of borderline boring, categorically pretentious conversations on our place in the universe and the state of the human race, spattered in between the predictably lovely photography and the occasional pratfalling. Director Daniel Dencik talks of similar concerns in the festival guide, leaving you wondering how much input he had to the scientist's discussions, if this is indeed a 'real' documentary. If that's the case then perhaps he would have been better served letting these obviously very clever people talk about whatever they wanted to: the frozen waters they're exploring, for example.

The confusion this engenders around how much of the film is entirely staged, how much is setup by Dencik and how much is actual document of real happenings should really take a back seat though to the fact that, no matter which of those options are true, the muddle between them leads to a pretty un-engaging film.

It's difficult to knock the beautiful nature photography, but then, shouldn't that be a given? The balance leaves you with tonally deaf character moments, detached musings on anthropology and biology and glimpses of drama (note the bit where two crew members are dumped into the sea whilst apparently trying to look at the hull - never explained) that Dencik seems uninterested in. There's some decent content here but it's extraordinarily badly managed, through a raft of shifts that don't help to engage.




The 27th Leeds International Film Festival (LIFF) takes place from the 6th-21st November at cinemas around the city, including Hyde Park Picture House and Leeds Town Hall. Tickets and more information are available via the official LIFF website.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

No comments:

Post a comment