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Science, art at play in 'Expedition to the End of the World'

 Science, art at play in 'Expedition to the End of the World'
A scene from 'Expedition to the End of the World.'

In Daniel Dencik's agreeably meditative, beautifully shot documentary "Expedition to the End of the World," a three-masted schooner carries a cadre of scientists and artists to a mostly ice-encrusted region of northeast Greenland that, because of global warming, is now passable for a few weeks each year.

The mostly uncharted area and its exploratory bounty provoke this eccentric, witty and chummy group — experts in archaeology, marine biology, geology and the visual arts — to philosophize on evolution and humankind's impact. They fish, take samples, wander, draw, record and speculate on what that polar bear in the distance is up to.

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Is life a rare event? Are we changing our environment too fast for us to adapt to it? Is it hubris to talk of climate change as bad if the planet is essentially a history of natural disasters?

Composed of breathtaking images and cheeky bits of humor, Dencik's travelogue reveals a journey with curious traces of the past, eye-popping encounters with a wild present and — in discovering an oil company's ship in the group's midst — a weighted reminder of our future as stewards of the Earth.

"Expedition to the End of the World."

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes.

Playing at the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.

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