So the other day I’m watching Werner Herzog‘s 2008 documentary Encounters at the End of the World, which is quite good and quirky like most of Herzog’s best stuff but then I get to this one part where he “interviews” (I’m using quotes here because it’s painfully clear watching this–and Herzog even comes right and says it at one point–that Herzog’s subject is not too fond of talking with human beings, especially ones who are celebrated filmmakers) this penguin scientist and Herzog (who is doing maybe 80 percent of the talking) just out of the blue asks the guy if penguins can go insane. The scientist pauses thoughtfully (which probably doesn’t mean much because he pauses thoughtfully after every question Herzog asks) and then says something to effect of Yeah, I’ve seen one or two bash their heads against rocks for no apparent reason. Then Herzog segues to this chilling footage of a bunch of penguins happily (I’m guessing) waddling off towards stage right, which Herzog tells us (well, me) that this is the way to the ocean and plenty of life-sustaining fish (penguin food) when suddenly this one penguin (which Herzog insists on calling “deranged”) stops dead in his little penguin tracks, stares at these forbidding ice mountains that look to be miles away in a completely different direction, waits for all the other penguins to pass him by (not one of which stops to ask if everything’s cool), and then just waddles off towards said mountains, the harsh Antarctic interior and Herzog says rather melodramatically is “certain death.”
This fascinates me to no end. Also the fact that when I Googled the term “deranged penguins,” I got 1,700 results.