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Fata Morgana (1971)

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



(original screenplay)
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Title: Fata Morgana (1971)

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


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

Add Full Plot | Add Synopsis


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1 February 1972 (West Germany)  »

Filming Locations:


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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


Featured in I Am My Films - A Portrait of Werner Herzog (1978) See more »


So Long Marianne
Written and Performed by Leonard Cohen
See more »

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User Reviews

The Mirages Of Humanity In The Deserts Of Our Minds
17 June 2007 | by (England) – See all my reviews

As one other IMDb reviewer puts it, "...imagine 2001: A Space Odyssey in the desert" and you wouldn't be far off from a brief summarisation of what to expect from this piece of cinema (I deeply hesitate to use the word "film"). A lecture on philosophical views on creationism, the mythos surrounding humanities existence, the before and after, that was has been, the what is and the what will be. This for some maybe a "2001" on sand, but they tackle different philosophical viewpoints, one about evolution and the future, the hope and potential for mankind, while Fata Morgana itself is a somewhat more metaphysical trek. I only hope I can convey it effectively enough.

Herzogs style will not to be everyones liking, and those who are not of a perceived hardcore branch of cinematic viewing may, and most likely will, find this extremely hard going, and may not even see it through to its finale after 72 minutes. Fusing together a montage of footage from the Sahara, including villages, villagers and various other places for a somewhat surrealist ending, music of various genres and an almost mythical narration, Fata Morgana is severely slow paced but ultimately hugely rewarding.

Opening with a montage of various filmed shots of planes landing for nigh on five minutes, you already arrival at the introduction of the film immensely confused, and the sense that this will not be like anything you have seen before echoes clear in your mind. Divided into three sections, creation, paradise and the golden age, Fata Morgana attempts, and succeeds, in being able to juxtapose images of the natural beauty of the desert with the man made instruments that taint it. Its three segments are narrated by different persons each pertaining specifically to the particular section they are voicing and provide extra emphasis on the long soliloquy's and desert montages.

Fata Morgana is a film dealing with the existence of man on our Earth. It looks at the natural beauty the Earth was designed for, and concurrently looking at the potential beauty we have within us, more notably shows us our negative contributions to the world in which we live. Each shot has been purposefully constructed, using what can only be described within the context of this film as 'The Holy Trinity Of Filming' in pictures, words and music. Each part of these three pieces provides something notably to each shot, but when brought together they create something greater than the whole of their parts, they create unbridled beauty and deep thought within our minds. I will not be able to do this film the justice it deserves with mere words alone, perhaps if I had pictures and a score, and I do know this will not be appreciated by the masses, but this a profound and I will not use the term "art film" because this is simply just art. This is moving art which moves the mind and stirs the soul. Whether or not creationism is your want is irrelevant, because this film is about intelligent design.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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