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Herzog examines the world championships for cattle auctioneers, his fascination with a language created by an economic system, and compares it to the lifestyle of the Amish, who live nearby.Written by
Werner Herzog paints himself into a corner with this overlong (44 minutes) documentary about an auctioneer's competition at a major Midwestern fair. By focusing only on this topic it moves from fascinating to interesting to boring in less time than it would to auction a couple of heifers. The film diverts and becomes disjointed when it abruptly switches to a montage of the local Amish population accompanied by the strains of Country Road. Then its back to the competition for over fifteen minutes of auctioning. It is an ordeal.
We can all benefit from Werner Herzog's fascination and keen interest in the world at large. His topics tend toward the odd and esoteric and their are moments in his films, both fiction and documentary, where you get the feeling your both learning at the same time. There is no condescension just interest in finding something out. In Woodchuck, however he seems more like a tourist than documentary film maker. As part of a larger film, say on the entire fair, it would have made a valuable contribution (as well as the Amish angle) but alone it wears out its welcome in under fifteen minutes.
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