PLACE IN CRISIS
GOETHE INSTITUT SCHWEDEN presents 13 Selected Films of WERNER HERZOG in cooperation with Föreningen Film i Malmö.
Entrance to all films is FREE and open to the public (minimum age 15). No membership is required.
WELCOME! We are very proud to offer this rare opportunity to see the works of Werner Herzog, a true master filmmaker, on the big screen!
28/7 SUNDAY 14:30 (1992, 55min,german,english and arabic with english subtitles)
Probably the best example of Herzog’s distinctive approach to the thin line between documentary and fiction. Nowhere in his filmography has his blurring of this line been more complete than in this terse, mysterious, and evocative film, made in Kuwait and Iraq shortly after the first Gulf War, in the immediate wake of the Iraqi army’s destructive retreat from occupied Kuwait. But despite this setting, the film is almost stridently apolitical — aside from a pair of scenes in which Arab women describe the tortures of Saddam Hussein’s regime — and ahistorical in its treatment of the war, the region it occurred in, and the world situation and events that caused it. Aside from Herzog’s narration and the two Arab women, the film’s other people are silent, mostly men working on extinguishing the oil fires that Iraqi soldiers lit in the aftermath of the war, and they are glimpsed usually from a distance, covered in thick layers of protective clothing and framed in silhouette against the towering blazes. This abstraction from the human elements of the story allows Herzog to transform this documentary into a kind of science-fiction narrative about an alien world, and right from the start his narration enforces this idea. Herzog’s films have often stressed the absurdity and hostility of nature, and the ultimate extreme for him is the idea that our planet is alien to its own inhabitants. To this end, he has captured some of the most stunning and strangely beautiful images imaginable: lakes of oil, towering blazes that fill the sky with black smoke, a desert strewn with bones and mysterious metal wreckage, strange machines completing inscrutable tasks in the midst of this hellish landscape. (excerpt from Only the Cinema)
28/7 SUNDAY 15:40 (2005, 81min, english)
An opening title card reads “a science fiction fantasy,” as Herzog rekindles his long-running obsessions in the form of an wholly invented story of a dying alien planet and the journey taken there by a group of human astronauts. One of its former residents – conveniently in human form (a wonderful Brad Dourif, familiar to most as Grima Wormtongue from The Two Towers) – narrates the tale and reminisces his far away planet, he and many other former inhabitants having evacuated long ago in the midst of a destructive ice age. Herzog pieces together scripted interviews about theorized space travel, NASA footage of the 1989 STS-34 Space Shuttle mission (recasting the astronauts as travelers en route to the titular galactic body), and underwater footage of artic marine life (presented as the extra-terrestrial planet), all held together by a wholly alien score featuring Dutch cellist Ernst Reijsiger and Senegalese singer Mola Sylla. The synchronization of these marvelous sights and sounds creates an overwhelming sense of genuine long-ago, far-away ness (if Stanley Kubrick and David Bowie ever had a love child, this would have been it), while the often sublimely ridiculous use of natural footage (at one point the “inhabitants” of The Wild Blue Yonder are even given voices and their own distinct tongue) prove a dazzling ode to the mesmerizing power of nature. Our Alien narrator, meanwhile – often before locations of abandoned buildings or decrepit scrap heaps – yearns for the preservation of earth’s natural beauty and the staying of mankind’s viral natural imperialism, the human population committing many of the same sins his own race once practiced in vain.
28/7 SUNDAY 17:15 (1976, 31min, german with english subtitles)
More so than any other filmmaker, the act of filmmaking itself becomes an essential aspect to understanding the fictional world Herzog creates. The same idea can be usefully applied to his documentaries – but La Soufriere is surely the one in which the spectre of death and destruction looms most palpably in every frame. In late 1976 Herzog along with his two cameramen Jorg Schmidt-Retwein and Edward Lachman travelled to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, an island that had been evacuated due to the imminent explosion of the volcano La Soufriere. However a handful of peasants had remained on the island, despite claims by volcanologists that to do so would mean certain death. Intrigued by this attitude to impending death Herzog was determined to interview these men to get a better understanding of their cavalier approach to life. Their position as men on the fringes of society is made clear, and the decision to remain behind is motivated as much by economics as it is a stubborn desire to make a statement. This decision though has enabled each of the men Herzog interviews to come to terms with, and accept, the inevitability of death. For all of them death is something they no longer fear, and each speak in a surprisingly laid back and relaxed manner as if to suggest that La Soufriere has relieved them of a large burden. They are all very impressive in front of the camera – showing an assuredness and punctuating their statements with a philosophical and poetical turn of phrase which suggests that their time alone on the island has enabled them to free their minds.The most impressive aspect of this film is the discovery on arrival of a totally desolate and empty landscape. The streets are deserted of all human life and starving animals mingle in a reclaimed kingdom they can scarcely survive in. In their rush to abandon this island death trap eerie aspects of a once bustling community show the futility of technology in the face of a natural disaster.