Held back my thoughts on these until I’d seen all the Herzog films I’d wanted for this project and now I have. All three films are glorious pieces of cinema, that you feel only one man on the planet could make and that’s Werner Herzog, quickly becoming one of my all time favourite people, both as man and a filmmaker.
Objective documentary making goes out the window with Herzog, I love the moment in Encounters where Herzog asks a Penguin scientist who clearly has lived amongst penguins on his own for too long about homosexuality, odd sexual behaviour, prostitution and insanity amongst Penguins. As bizarre and disliking as the scientist finds these questions this is followed by the poignant sequence of an insane Penguin waddling off into the baron distance to his inevitable frozen death. It’s my favourite moment in a film that is full of amazing sequences. The shots under the ice are so beautiful and haunting that you scarcely believe that this alien-like place exists on Earth.
Aguirre, the Wrath of God is the story of a group of Spanish Conquistadors on a deluded search down the Amazon river in search of the fictitious El Dorado, the city of gold. The group are faced with the navigating the perilous Jungle and it’s hidden traps, floating down the Amazon river on wooden rafts while being openly exposed to the local Indians who want them dead. The modern camera work, weird music, minimalist approach coupled with moments of pure silence give the film and entirely different feel to what you'd expect.
Fitzcarraldo is a story of a brilliant dreamer who wants to build an Opera house in the middle of Peruvian jungle. In order to do this he must travel down the Amazon river and exploit the valuable rubber plantations that exist there. However to do this he must first enlist the help of the notoriously dangerous local tribe and using them, drag his 320 tonne Steamboat over a steep hill, the wonderful piece of filmmaking being of course that no special effects were used to get this boat over the hill. With the help of the tribe the gigantic boat was literally dragged by hand, all while the cast and crew faced the dangers of the Amazon jungle and climate, an unpredictable tribe and of course Klaus Kinski. It’s a film that has to be seen to be believed, there will never be anything like it ever again.