About the daring adventure of exploring rainforest canopy with a novel flying device-the Jungle Airship. Airship engineer Dr. Graham Dorrington embarks on a trip to the giant Kaieteur Falls... See full summary »
An alien narrates the story of his dying planet, his and his people's visits to Earth and Earth's man-made demise, while human astronauts attempt to find an alternate planet for surviving humans to live on.
Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.
In the 1950s, an adolescent Werner Herzog was transfixed by a film performance of the young Klaus Kinski. Years later, they would share an apartment where, in an unabated, forty-eight-hour ... See full summary »
German-American Dieter Dengler discusses his service as an American naval pilot in the Vietnam War. Dengler also revisits the sites of his capture and eventual escape from the hands of the Vietcong, recreating many events for the camera.
Into the abyss explores a triple murder which occurred in the small Texas City of Conroe in 2001. Michael Perry and Jason Burkett, under the influence of alcohol and drugs, murdered a middle-aged housewife; they then gunned down her stepson and his friend. The film features Conversations with the two inmates and those affected by their crime. Unlike many of the films that deal with crimes, into the abyss isn't concerned with figuring out exactly what happened, but rather serves as an examination of why people - and the state - kill. Written by
Hold still and watch the birds. Once you get up into your life like that, and once you feel good about your life, you do start watching what the birds do. What the doves are doing. Like the hummingbirds. Why are there so many of them.
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Engrossing, sobering look into the dramatics of death
You know and value Herzog because he's one of few these days who can offer a glimpse of cosmologic infrastructure. The wheels and chains that move the world beneath the stories we make up to describe it. What he does, is that he frames chaotic nature where it has a story to tell
say a man living with bears, or an island about to explode - builds
this as opera while maintaining the illusion of spontaneous life, blurring document with fiction, then uses this to bring to the surface an image that explains the madness of those stories. A boat being tugged over a hill, as pure as this.
The story here is about death-row inmates awaiting execution in a Texas penitentiary, structured so that we absorn not just the heinous, meaningless crime but the broader world that leads up to it, allows it to happen, is dependent on and reflects it. Broken homes, unemployment, casual street violence, Herzog provides enough background detail to ground this in a larger systemic failure: so-called civilized society as only a facade of chaotic nature left to seed.
As with Caves the previous year, the film is talky, dependent on people being able to conjure an experience we only have a handful of images for; the crime scene, dried blood still spattered on the walls, the quietly ominous-looking execution chamber, the prison cemetery lined with crosses of the executed.
And this is the whole point. Here is a story of immense, sobering power, interviewing a man who will be dead by Monday, but of course Herzog cannot film the moment, much to the chagrin of many. He has to tell a story around it.
No, the point is that we only have words, memories, stories to say. Many of these are recounted in the film. The execution itself is pieced together from objects and testimonies, very much like we would process a memory. But these stories are still powerful enough to decide life and death. Two were convicted for the crime, and going beyond who pulled the trigger, since both planned for it, only one was sentenced to die.
This is what is so sobering to me; one man just had a better story to tell the court, more touching drama to explain his being, and we get to note this in the film for a clear effect, he's just more agreeable to listen to, appears more responsible, more level-headed and contrite, whereas the other is just a little wacky. Asked about a story, he blurts out something about monkeys and camp. Herzog himself is markedly disinterested in him, whereas a lot of time is devoted to the man who isn't going to die, a long soliloquy by his guilt-wracked father - serving life in the same prison - that we presume is as sentimental as he pled to the court with it.
The bitter, hard-to-swallow truth is that this guy's life is simply better movie material, makes for a better story, and this decides life
notice too his wife's sappy story about their first encounter,
misty-eyed soap as it is.
So even though the film seems more streamlined and ordinary for Herzog, talky opposed to visually primal, it is as pure as he ever delivered, perhaps without himself knowing it.
The whole system we have devised to support life, call it state, society, civilization, is not an infallible, impartial machine but hinges on the bias of storytelling and emotion. The law is arbitrary, equally chaotic as what is meant to organize. At the bottom of that, there is only time and emptiness.
Observant Herzog fans will note that he used this intertitle - 'Time and Emptiness' - for the closing segment of his Buddhist documentary Wheel of Time. See if you can spot the powerful connection between these two, the floating worlds and ritual they portray.
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