Through examining Fini Straubinger, an old woman who has been deaf and blind since adolescence, and her work on behalf of other deaf and blind people, this film shows how the deaf and blind... See full summary »
A group of inhabitants of a correctional colony for people of small stature raises a riot against the local order. Tired of adhering to the many rules that require good behavior from them, ... See full summary »
The film features several horse trainers and other track workers talking about their roles at the track, always eventually interrupted by an older man who claims to be the true authority, ... See full summary »
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 »
A wounded German paratrooper named Stroszek is sent to the quiet island of Kos with his wife Nora, a Greek nurse, and two other soldiers recovering from minor wounds. Billeted in a decaying... See full summary »
The documentary follows Gene Scott, famous televangelist involved with constant fights against FCC, who tried to shut down his TV show during the 1970's and 1980's, and even argues with his... See full summary »
very good intentions, which could have been far more effectively realized
I saw FATA MORGANA at its US premiere in 1972 and again in 1975. The film remained in my (inexact) memory as possible model or prototype of the "surreal documentary", and I think I had recollections of Herzog's long pans and tracking shots in a back chamber of my mind while filming material in the Dolomites that I later combined with manipulated WWI footage in my own audio-visual work GEBIRGSKRIEGSPROJEKT. Having lived in Austria for 17 years and now being fluent in the language of FATA MORGANA's narration, I was eagerly looking forward to re-encountering the film on DVD.
Unfortunately, I have to admit that I was rather disappointed. The terms of my reaction are largely defined by Werner Herzog's own commentary on the German DVD. That he wanted to make a documentary as if from the point of view of visitors from another galaxy is a good idea and a commendable ambition, but I think the hypothetical visitors from Andromeda would have arrived with a far more anthropologically organized structure of viewing than what Herzog here presents. It would however be unfair to call the film pretentious: it's just not that well thought out. There are indeed some strong images (not only those of the desert mirages ...) that could have been used effectively as expanding material in a more narratively oriented film, or served as basis for a more "experimental" work, such as those of Stan Brakhage (who Herzog professes to admire), but these images are too often weakened by sloppy camera movement or flaccid editing.
I found the use of heterogeneous music (Blind Faith, Leonard Cohen, the Kyrie from one of Mozart's masses) arbitrary and unconvincing. Chance-derived juxtapositions are stimulating now and then, but this is no well-thought-out dialectically surreal counterpoint of image and sound that could really cut into the eye and ear.
Some sequences in the later part of the film (a foreign aid worker having African children recite "der Blitzkrieg ist Wahnsinn", or a scene where German tourists hop up and down in little volcanic craters on Lanzarote) lapse into the ridiculous and unfortunately retrospectively lower the level of what came before.
BUT Werner Herzog is a great filmmaker who has in other works made immense contributions to his art. FATA MORGANA may be one of his weaker films, but I suspect it was essential to his development. I'ts a pleasure and a challenge to view and to think about this film.
8 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this