Expedition to the End of the World

In this 2013 Danish documentary by Daniel Dencik, an assortment of hardy adventurers—a geologist, an archaeologist, a marine biologist, an artist, a photographer, and a geographer—venture into northeast Greenland on a schooner to explore the fjords that once were snow-covered but now lay exposed as the globe warms. Most research expeditions begin with a specific mission, notes geochemist Bo Elberling, whereas “we begin with an opportunity.” In practice that means a lot of disconnected musing about the perilous state of the planet and the Darwinian aspect of climate change, the discourse rendered trivial by the staggering landscapes. At one point the explorers watch from the ship as a polar bear onshore breaks into a house and then lumbers off, having a tough time with the steep, craggy rocks at the water’s edge; the beast leaves a deeper impression than all the crew members’ jawboning, but then the end of its world is a lot closer at hand than theirs.