Expedition to the End of the World

It’s one thing to travel; it’s another thing to travel without a specific destination in mind. It’s still another thing to travel to where few—if any—have gone before.

Expedition to the End of the World, from Danish writer-director Daniel Dencik chronicles such a journey, one that has an immediate appeal to Arctic travellers. The scenery, shot on the ice-choked Greenlandic coast, is achingly beautiful. But this film subverts the ‘nature film’ genre, creating not so much a portrait of a journey, or of a place, but of a late Western state of mind.

The premise is simple: a multi-national group of artists and scientists sets sail aboard an old wooden schooner for fjords along the northeast coast of Greenland, newly accessible due to climate change. That should be a straightforward story to tell. But there’s a catch: while exploration is the obvious purpose, the real goal of the expedition is shrouded in mystery.

ExpeditionToTheEndOfTheWorldHow many are aboard? We never get a clear picture. Where are they actually going? Somewhere up the coast of Greenland. How long are they at sea? We don’t know. How did they come together? Again, we don’t know. Most importantly, what are their motivations?

This last question is the key to the film’s hidden heart. Through a series of vignettes featuring individual artists, scientists, and ship’s crew, we learn that each traveller is really on his or her own, unique journey.

Amid genuine moments of discovery—potential new species of tiny sea creatures; evidence of human habitation revealed by retreating ice—there are quiet scenes beneath pristine mountain ranges, surrounded by looming ice, cruising through limpid waters. And silly moments, too: a scientist trying to wrestle a salmon bare-handed; the launching of a flying Zodiac, quotes from Futurama. The film veers from unnerving, to hilarious, to breathtaking, in bathetic lurches, just as the soundtrack jumps from Mozart to Metallica.

Ship of destiny, or ship of fools? This truly is an expedition ‘to the end of the world’—not just to the polar region, but to the edge of our own knowledge about the world, and, with the looming threat of climate change, perhaps of the world itself.

The symbol is too compelling to ignore: what are we all but passengers aboard a single ship, sailing for parts unknown, with no real goal in mind…and no clue what happens next?

Yet the journey, for all its unsettling moments, is a sublime one; the characters are so compelling, the landscape so beautiful, and the story so compellingly told, that we must conclude that it has been worthwhile.

And that perhaps, as with Expedition to the End of the Earth, it will all come out well somehow in the end.

Visit the coast of Greenland on these amazing Adventure Canada voyages:

Heart of the Arctic 2015
Arctic Explorer 2015
Into the Northwest Passage 2015
Out of the Northwest Passage 2015
Greenland & Wild Labrador 2016
Heart of the Arctic 2016
Arctic Safari 2016
Arctic Explorer 2016
Into the Northwest Passage 2016
Out of the Northwest Passage 2016

Canada Day considered

RelaxingAs Canada Day approaches, many people have plans to spend the holiday in traditional ways: camping, going to the beach or the park, vacationing with family or friends, or just taking it easy around home. Or even relaxing in the Arctic sun, like our passengers here.

These are all great ways to spend the day—and like many other activities people engage in while celebrating our nation’s founding, they have something important in common.

No, we don’t mean fireworks, barbecues, coolers of drinks or a bursting picnic basket. Or boating, which is one our favourite pursuits on a typical July 1.

Boating

The common thing almost every ‘great Canadian Canada Day’ has in common, from coast to coast, regardless of income, culture, age or background, is the great outdoors.

That’s where we all go to relax and enjoy. Blessed as we are with an abundance of open space, and a day to celebrate that falls at the warmest time of the year, it’s only natural for Canadians to get outside on July 1st to enjoy the best of what Canada offers. Even if that’s the micro-forest of the Arctic tundra.

ArcticPlants

These incredible blessings are not without their burden. Everywhere there are signs we cannot afford to take the environment for granted. No region of the nation is unaffected.

These challenges affect us all, regardless of belief system or political affiliation. Every sane person wishes to see nature’s grandeur undiminished, and own collective future ensured. At Adventure Canada, our own livelihood depends on the beauty of Canada’s wild spaces, and we must continually strive to respect and sustain that greatest of gifts.

So amid the celebrations on Canada Day, perhaps you’ll find time for a moment of consideration. Consider the beauty; consider the vitality, consider the threats—and consider your place in it all. We will, too. PolarBear

 

From us to you, a very happy Canada Day, considered.