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Fata Morgana (1971)

Not Rated  |   |  Documentary  |  1 February 1972 (West Germany)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 2,229 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 30 critic

Footage shot in and around the Sahara Desert, accompanied only by a spoken creation myth and the songs of Leonard Cohen.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Lotte Eisner ...
Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Eugen Des Montagnes
James William Gledhill
Wolfgang von Ungern-Sternberg
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Storyline

Footage shot in and around the Sahara Desert, accompanied only by a spoken creation myth and the songs of Leonard Cohen.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

1 February 1972 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Фата Моргана  »

Filming Locations:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Werner Herzog and his crew went to the African country of Cameroon a few weeks after a coup attempt took place to shoot the film. The police arrested the director after misidentifying a crew member as a wanted criminal. He and several crew members were beaten and thrown into a cell. Herzog contracted bilharzia, a blood parasite. See more »


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Sea of Joy
Written and Performed by Blind Faith
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User Reviews

 
The world from a non-human point of view
14 January 2000 | by (Chicago, Illinois) – See all my reviews

Successful films on metaphysical subjects are rare, but Fata Morgana is a good case. You can chalk up the large subject to the ambitions of youth, but Herzog does an amazingly good job. The movie's point is to show human beings, and even the world, from a non-human point of view.

The movie is in three parts: Creation, Paradise, and The Golden Age. The imagery of each is in counterpoint to the voice-over. Although the text of `The Creation' (from the Popol Vuh, a Mayan myth) refers to the primordial wasteland, the scene goes no further in illustrating the myth. It dwells on the waste, and on various specimens of destruction (fire, smoke, wrecked vehicles). The images from `Paradise' are anything but that, and `The Golden Age' is darkly comic – the highest culture is the strange roadside musical act.

The Popol Vuh suggests that mankind is the central object of creation, but the movie does everything it can to undo this notion. Its mythological framework has no referent in human historical time. There are no human characters to speak of. When a boy stands with a dog in an extended shot, the initial suggestion is of the boy's point of view; by the end it is much more the dog's. Likewise the lizard is a stronger character than the human who introduces it, and the turtle's partner barely looks human with his big flippers.

Animal stories and nature documentaries always anthropomorphize, but Fata Morgana has none of that. Certainly the dunes look like a female body, but the simile cuts both ways. Presumably only humans can distinguish easily between their creation and nature, and here airplanes and factories are presented alongside mountains, lakes, and waterfalls. People and civilization are all part of a broader natural landscape.

In 1979 Herzog put a new twist on the idea when he remade Nosferatu from the vampire's point of view.


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