Posts tagged ‘Werner Herzog’

April 3, 2012

Into The Abyss: A Tale Of Death, A Tale Of Life (2012 – Cinema)

“All life is precious, be it that of a squirrel or a human being”

Werner Herzog is a Director uniquely capable of the rare trick of delivering both devastating quality and unbelievable quantity. There always seems to be a new feature or documentary film out and ‘Into The Abyss’ is his latest doc focusing on the death penalty. Specifically he looks into the aftermath of a triple Homicide committed in Texas in 2001.

The interviews he has elicited from victims, inmates, guards and preachers are powerful and insightful, ranging from the comic to the tragic. But mostly the tragic, as a couple of interviews had people round me in the cinema sobbing. The most astonishing revelations come from the regretful father of a lifer who himself is in prison for life, describing the deep shame he feels. I would hope Herzog’s film would change the minds of people in the pro camp but even with my lifelong opposition to state sanctioned killings, it left me with much to think about.

Channel 4 is currently airing a companion TV based documentary series called ‘Death Row’ that I’m gonna have to check out.

February 19, 2012

Aguirre, The Wrath Of God (1972 – DVD)

That is no arrow… we just imagine the arrows because we fear them”

1972’s ‘Aguirre, The Wrath Of God’ is the fictionalised story of the Spanish Conquistador expedition deep into the Amazon to find the legendary city of El Dorado.  Klaus Kinski plays the title role Aguirre who instigates a mutiny and is ultimately driven insane by the oppressive darkness of the Jungle.

I was expecting great things from ‘Aguirre, The Wrath Of God’ for a number of reasons.  Namely, I’ve recently watched a fascinating documentary chronicling its turbulent production, people often cite it as one of the greatest films ever, it’s the primary influence on one of my favourite films ‘Apocalypse Now’ and I’ve loved everything else by the director Werner Herzog.  So I was surprised to find the film slow-paced, unengaging and actually aching boring.  Klaus Kinski’s deranged performance is electric but it felt like he was only in it for about 15 mins and he’s the title character!  Most of the running time consisted of obviously first-time actors sitting in silence looking bored.  Portraying a descent in to madness is hampered by the fact that Kinski looks insane from the outset (The same problem that Jack Nicholson has in ‘The Shining’).  I am reserving some judgement as the DVD I watched was an appallingly bad transfer bringing back memories of VHS quality!  When the film is given a proper Blu-Ray based restoration I will definitely give it another go.