January 20 - February 2, 2006
The great European director Werner Herzog is one of the most renowned filmmakers of the last 50 years. His films range from personally conceived and singularly made documentaries to dark epics of dramatic weight. The Brattle is very pleased to be one of the first American venues to screen this special collection of films including Herzog's newest fiction feature, WILD BLUE YONDER, alongside some of his most well known works. See below for descriptions of the features in this series.
"The sound of a Herzog film is organically part of its effect. His stories begin in a straightforward manner, but their result is incalculable, and there is no telling where they may lead: They conclude not in an 'ending' but in the creation of a mood within us - a spiritual or visionary feeling. I believe he wants his audiences to feel like detached observers, standing outside time, saddened by the immensity of the universe as it bears down on the dreams and delusions of man.
"Of modern filmmakers, Herzog is the most visionary and the most obsessed with great themes. Little wonder that he has directed many operas. He does not want to tell a plotted story or record amusing dialog; he wants to lift us up into realms of wonder. Only a handful of modern films share the audacity of his vision; I think of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Apocalypse Now. Among active directors, the one who seems as messianic is Oliver Stone. There is a kind of saintly madness in the way they talk about their work; they cannot be bothered with conventional success, because they reach for transcendence." - Roger Ebert
Dates & Showtimes
Monday 1/23 - Tuesday 1/24
New 35mm Print!
NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE at 4:30, 7:00, 9:30
Wednesday 1/25 - Thursday 1/26
New 35mm Print!
COBRA VERDE at 5:00, 7:15, 9:30
Friday 1/27 - Saturday 1/28
WHEEL OF TIME at 5:30, 7:30 (+Sat at 1:30, 3:30)
LESSONS OF DARKNESS at 5:15, 6:45, 8:15, 9:45
Renowned German director Werner Herzog's latest film begins with a familiar sci-fi plot: a group of astronauts are circling the Earth in a spacecraft, but they cannot return, as our planet has become uninhabitable. The cause of this remains unrevealed - perhaps all-out war, outbreak of a new disease beyond control, or radiation after the dissolution of the ozone layer is to blame. The crew of the spacecraft must find a more hospitable place out there in space so they release a probe, Galileo. But Galileo - after sending back very disquieting data - must be sent on a different mission...
Without our knowledge we have had visitors from outer space for decades. They have come from a planet submerged in water, "The Wild Blue Yonder," and their attempts to create a new community on Earth have so far not met with great success. This film is narrated on-screen by one of the visitors played by Brad Dourif (The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, Deadwood). In words and lyrical images, he shows how our attempts to find a new home somewhere in outer space is doomed to failure.
Herzog's space fantasy uses extraordinary music and images to create an imaginary scenario that has an impassioned sub-text telling us to protect our most precious and irreplaceable possession - our planet.
Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski are one of modern cinema's most notorious pairings. Infamous for their off-screen conflicts, the two somehow push each other to heights of genius on-screen. In this outing, Herzog remakes F.W. Murnau's NOSFERATU, the classic 1922 version of Dracula, with Kinski in the lead role - and he is rarely creepier!
"Funny without being silly, eerie without being foolish and uncommonly beautiful in a way that has nothing to do with mere prettiness." - Vincent Canby, The New York Times
Herzog and Kinski's final collaboration is the remarkable tale of Francisco Manoel da Silva, the flamboyant 19th century Brazilian bandit known as Cobra Verde. The owner of a sugar plantation gets more than he bargains for when he hires Verde to keep his slaves in check, as the thief, in short order, impregnates all of his boss's daughters and, after being exiled to West Africa, leads an unstoppable army of women in a savage war against the local king. Kinski is at his volcanic best. Always on the edge of madness, Kinski reaches a new level of ferocity when whipping his army into a frenzied bloodlust.
"Buddha found enlightenment sitting under a tree in Bodh Gaya, India and today Buddhist monks are ordained in this holy place. Werner Herzog (who claimed to have once walked from Munich to Paris) takes their lengthy pilgrimage (for some, more than 3000 miles) and the monks' creation of the intricate sand mandala ('the wheel of time') as jumping-off points for a thoughtful, highly personal look at what Buddhism means to its most fervent adherents as well as to the rest of us.
"'You're reminded why Herzog is considered a master: The sight of travelers filing across the snow-covered plains past Mount Kallash and the climactic sweeping of the mandala portraiture into oblivion are as awe-inspiring as anything Herzog has ever contrived.' - David Fear, City Pages (Minneapolis)" - notes from the Film Forum, NYC
This fascinating and extremely entertaining documentary follows the obsessed Herzog as he desperately tries to hold together the production of FITZCARRALDO in the face of hostile environments, cast defections, crew deaths, and one truly insane star. Ranks with Apocalypse Now's Hearts Of Darkness as one of the most sensational and revealing documents of extreme film production.
Double Feature w/Fitzcarraldo
One of Herzog and Kinski's most infamous outings, FITZCARRALDO tells the story of Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald (Kinski), an Irishman determined to build an opera house in the midst of the Peruvian jungle. As with the best of Herzog's films (see also AGUIRRE), this chronicle of a grand and deadly folly reflects as much about the director's obsessions as it does about his characters'.
Double Feature w/Burden Of Dreams
Herzog prefers to think of this film as science fiction rather than documentary as it depicts a tragically alien land: the flaming Kuwaiti oil fields post-Desert Storm. He deliberately avoided filming anything that is recognizable. Only someone with as passionate a view of nature and man's violent conflict could make such a poetic and beautiful vision of utter madness and destruction.
One of the most unforgettable films of all time, AGUIRRE marks the first collaboration between Herzog and Kinski and it's a doozy. There are few more indelible images in cinema than a mad and alone Kinski ranting at a raft full of monkeys. Sixteenth century conquistador, Aguirre proves himself both greedy and ruthless when he takes control of an expedition into the Peruvian jungle in search of El Dorado, the lost city of gold.
Double Feature w/My Best Fiend
A reminiscence of a friend couched in the form of a biographical documentary, MY BEST FIEND is Herzog's attempt to portray his story behind his relationship with the fiery Klaus Kinski. Herzog is the consummate storyteller and his running commentary in this film amounts to an extended monologue alternately refuting and verifying all of the strange, hilarious, maddening, and violent myths surrounding the relationship between these two lifelong friends. In the film, Kinski revisits the locations of the 5 films the pair made together (AGUIRRE, NOSFERATU, FITZCARRALDO, Woyzeck, and COBRA VERDE) and tells the story of their various conflicts, as well as the scenes that were shot immediately after.
Double Feature w/Aguirre, The Wrath Of God