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Come on and rock me, Werner Herzog

Posted by Mick on January 17, 2010 – 12:58 am

The grand Werner Herzog project has begun.  I’ve determined that I will work my way through his catalog, watching every thing I can get my hands on, and talking about them right here. I’m starting fresh.  Whatever I may have seen of Herzog in the past doesn’t count, it must be viewed again; partly for purity reasons, mostly to give me an excuse to watch Bad Lieutenant: PoCNO again.

Let’s be clear on one thing:  I have no time table for this project.  In fact, I’m in no hurry.

It’s all about priorities right now.  I’ve still got a day job that I have to focus on, because for now it’s what takes care of my family.  I’ve got my writing.  I want to write or co-write 3 feature scripts this year, and at least two shorts.  And I have my family.  I have no intention of stretching myself so thin that I neglect that which is most important.

Let me be perfectly clear on this topic – none of this would be possible without Tara.  She inspires me, she gives me purpose, she gives me confidence.  She is my muse.  She’s priority number one.

Enough of that, what about the movie?

Today I watched Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo (1982).  As I think about it, one word comes to mind.  Passion.  Fitzcarraldo, as played by Klaus Kinski, is a man of intense passion.  Fitzcarraldo is a passionate, if not particularly successful, businessman.  He’s a passionate lover.  His primary passion is the opera, and he is obsessed, one might say passionately so, with bringing opera to the jungles of Peru.  His obsession leads him, through a series of events that I’m going to leave you to discover for yourself, to drag a 320 ton steamship over a mountain.  Granted, it’s a small mountain.  Still, dragging a steamship over a mountain is no small feat, even with a tribe of head hunters assisting you.  And we see how hard it is, because the proceedings are shown at great length.

It’s not an action film.  It’s an art film.  You should know that going in.

Werner Herzog is also a man of passion.  He really wanted to tell this story about a man who drags a steamship over a mountain.  How do you make a movie about a man dragging a steamship over a mountain?  I’m sure James Cameron would devise some really cool CGI effect.  Herzog dragged a steamship over a mountain.  In the jungles of Peru.  Then he sent that steamship down the rapids, out of control, with six people on it.  Because that’s what was in the script.  Three of the people were injured.  Herzog got the shots.

First lesson learned:  Herzog is a badass.

It’s a serious film.  Very serious.  It’s not all pretension and drama, though.  There are numerous moments of levity, many of them involving the ship’s cook Huerequeque.  Huerequeque is my new hero.  He’s an amazing cook and a crack rifleman, making him a valuable asset to a ship.  He uses this to live a wonderful life of drunkeness and lechery.  No one else on the ship as a woman along.  Huerequeque has two.

I think Brian Kelley said it best: Fitzcarraldo is awe inspiring.

I’m one movie into this project and I already feel like I may have seen Herzog’s masterpiece.  I hope I’m wrong.

I’m also taking this week to get caught up on Dollhouse.  I’m two episodes behind, and I want to get caught up before the series finale.  It’s bittersweet.  I’m sad it’s ending, but I’m glad that Joss knew the show was going to be cancelled and was given the time to finish his story.  And his story is glorious.

I’ll admit, the first few episodes of Dollhouse didn’t fill me with the joy I expected.  Firefly had me hooked from the first 5 minutes, and I wanted that same feeling from Dollhouse.  When I didn’t get it, I was sad.  And then BOOM! everything came together.  It’s a damn shame Fox had to give it the worst time slot in their schedule.  They did better by this show than they did by Firefly, but that’s really not saying much.  At least this time, we’re going out with a bang.

Y’all come back now, you hear?

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