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Fata Morgana (1971)

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


Werner Herzog


Werner Herzog (original screenplay)

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Not Rated | See all certifications »



West Germany



Release Date:

1 February 1972 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Фата Моргана See more »

Filming Locations:

Sahara Desert, Africa See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


[All trivia items for this title are spoilers.] See more »


Featured in Century of Cinema: Die Nacht der Regisseure (1995) See more »


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

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User Reviews

You're On Your Own With This One
9 January 2007 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

Famed filmmaker Werner Herzog's "Fata Morgana" is breathtakingly unorthodox. Although characters appear in the film from time to time, there is no actual story. The film is also not an educational or historical documentary. It's a film without an accompanying screenplay.

The film consists of curious background music and a somewhat illogical narrative VO, the combination of which overlays a long string of images from mostly, though not exclusively, the Sahara Desert. Some of the images are wonderfully odd, and out of the ordinary. The camera captures ghostly images, or mirages, optical illusions that tantalize and mesmerize.

This general cinematic trend is punctuated by occasional observational asides on serendipitous topics. For example, in one sequence a man wearing goggles gives us a mini-tutorial on lizards. And in what for me was the most captivating and bizarre sequence, a small inset room contains a man with dark goggles who sings in a voice that is totally distorted by the microphone he's using, accompanied by an old lady who plays a punchy tune on an old piano. Neither the man nor the old lady seems to enjoy what they're doing. How baroque.

"Fata Morgana" does have an underlying concept, one that unites the wide assortment of strange images and eclectic sounds. But that concept is so subtle, so opaque that you'll never figure it out without help. From this subtle theme the film does indeed make sense. Without that point of reference, however, the film can seem tedious and unending, a pointless parade of random earthy images and esoteric narrative gibberish.

Unapologetically redundant, thematically baffling, and cinematically heretical, "Fata Morgana" will likely either make you swoon with delight, or cause you to throw up. You'll either latch on to the film's Zen-like qualities or be tempted to smash the DVD into a thousand pieces. One thing that most viewers will agree on: "Fata Morgana" is ... different.

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