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Letzte Worte (1968)

The story of a solitary man who refuses to leave a Greek island (at one time a leper colony) is told by a strange variety of characters who don't have much to say except to repeat their ... See full summary »

Director:

Werner Herzog

Writer:

Werner Herzog
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Cast

Credited cast:
Lefteris Daskalakis Lefteris Daskalakis
Antonis Papadakis Antonis Papadakis
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Storyline

The story of a solitary man who refuses to leave a Greek island (at one time a leper colony) is told by a strange variety of characters who don't have much to say except to repeat their tellings over and over again. But the person who has the final word on the matter, the lonely character himself, may not explain anything about his personal reasons for not abandoning the place. Written by Rodrigo Amaro

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Plot Keywords:

new german cinema | See All (1) »

Genres:

Short

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Details

Country:

West Germany

Language:

Greek | German

Release Date:

26 November 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Last Words See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is a short fiction film, that only appears like a (absurd) documentary. The whole story of the film was invented by director Werner Herzog: "The film you mentioned, Letzte Worte (1968), is a film that was done - much of it - during nighttime, while during day I was shooting Lebenszeichen (1968). And it was about a man who was a musician and I invented a story that he forcefully had to be removed as the last remaining occupant of a small island which was occupied by lepers. And what is so strange about the film: Everybody who tells his story tells it immediately again and then immediately again. So it's a very, an extremely bold way to narrate a story. And I of course completely and utterly invented [it] and loved the kind of music, how they played it..." [Onassis Cultural Center New York, 16 June 2015, transcript and video online] See more »

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User Reviews

 
"we were supposed to say it again"
5 October 2016 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

Already at the age of 25 or 26, at the same time as he was crafting his first film as a writer and director, Werner Herzog had a firm grip on how his worldview could be represented on film: absurd, sad, apocalyptic to a degree, but also full of the repetition of poetry (or the poetry of repetition, you pick), plus a story that is both insane and funny and delightful. Also, musical interludes that are lively, soulful and grab your attention.

This is just a 12 minute film, but in it we get the story of a man who was the last one on an island that had been plagued by lepers. At least, that's as far as I can figure out. The information we get is in pseud-documentary (this is probably when that was only getting started so I'm sure Herzog was ahead of the curve on that), and people being 'interviewed' repeat their responses. Why do they do this? I think it can come down to sounding almost like a prayer in information form, like we are discovering this story as a call of confusion and anguish and even indifference (which is perfectly ironic for a prayer).

Or it's simply that having people repeat things puts one in a kind of trance (Herzog loved himself, maybe still does, hypnosis as can be seen in Heart of Glass and Invincible), and it may be as much or more for the actors than for the audience. These people don't seem to be 'actors' in the professional sense; he likely found these people on the island or by the coastline - certainly the musicians, who seem so authentic as to not be from anywhere else - and it lends everything a sense of 'huh, so... what's the deal with these people, and the lepers, and why is this guy describing that lepers have a "distinct sex life?"

It's all mad and off-kilter and maybe unsettling. It's a fully- formed artist at a young age knocking something off quickly while doing his first big work. What a man!


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