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Fata Morgana (1971)

7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,928 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 29 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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(original screenplay)
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Title: Fata Morgana (1971)

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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

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

1 February 1972 (West Germany)  »

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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 »


Soundtracks

So Long Marianne
Written and Performed by Leonard Cohen
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User Reviews

One of the weirdest and most perplexing art films I have ever seen
1 March 2010 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

Fata Morgana is, by far, one of the weirdest and most perplexing art films I have ever seen. I hesitate to call it a documentary because, while is does have elements of documentation of it's images, the images themselves are so unusual, so hallucinogenic, so unclear, that I wonder whether it was really worth telling this story just so that these images can exist. The film basically is the tale of the earth and the creation of the earth shot from the perspective of an outsider, be it alien or something otherwise indescribable, all taking place in the Sahara desert. The title of the picture relates to the illusion or reflection of images, both real and hallucinated, that people in the desert often witness. These are also known as mirages.

The film opens with a plane landing followed by the plane landing again and then again and again and again and again and again and again. With each plane landing shot, the actual architecture of both the location it is landing at and the plane itself begin to slowly dissolve into one another and grow less and less real and more and more reflective imagery. The imagery in this film only grows more intense and more unusual as the picture continues. The narration of the film tells of the creation of the universe as alarming sexual images of sand and landscape move past the camera. The shots go further and further into the desert and Herzog films whatever he sees and finds. The strangest reflections of the world are on display in the distance while Herzog meets some of the most pure and photogenic collections of outsiders that you are ever likely to see. When the Leonard Cohen soundtrack kicks in, you can be sure that you are in the world of a mad man who is in love with the universe.

I cannot say too much more about this film without ruining anything, but I will say that it is a sobering experience and there's really nothing like it. I love seeing films that are just in classes of their own. This film certainly is a good example of how Herzog loves to intermingle narrative storytelling and documentary film-making into an interchangeable form. Fata Morgana unfortunately does overstay it's welcome just a bit, but by the time it nears it's end the images will most likely be burned into your mind forever. Definitely a must-see for those who are obsessed with the nature and the origin of the universe.


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