Originally conceived as a science-fiction story about aliens from the planet Andromeda, Herzog quickly rejected the idea to begin the impossibly possible task of filming extemporaneously in the Sahara desert. An undocumentary, this is one of Herzog’s greatest achievements. The film is broken into three organizing sections, ‘The Creation’, ‘Paradise’ and ‘The Golden Age’. From its opening of 8 repeated images of planes landing in a chimerical airfield, Fata Morgana literally entrances the viewer into a strangely sensory and hallucinatory space. Shot under extreme conditions, and inspired by Mayan creation theory, the film contemplates the illusion of reality, the possibility of capturing for the camera something which is not there. It is “about” the mirages of nature and the nature of mirage. In pre-historical lands, primordial and atypical desert-scapes infer the sad edge of a civilizational dystopia – the beauty of horror and the horror of beauty. In the skeletal detritus of sky/mountain/desert, in the shadow of an unknown army camp, in a place where dead livestock appear like cave paintings and blind men play with bats, there is sadness and redemption. For Herzog, “the embarrassed landscapes of our world get more and more blurred, more impalpable.” Herzog’s disjunctive use of music, from longtime collaborator Florian Fricke to Canadian poet Leonard Cohen allows the audience to re-view and the experience of emotional territory. He has said that: “we live in an society that has no adequate images anymore and if we do not find the adequate images or adequate languages of our civilization, with which to express them, we will die out like dinosaurs.” —One World Film Festival
One of the most influential filmmakers in New German Cinema and one of the most extreme personalities in film, Werner Herzog quickly gained recognition not only for creating some of the most fantastic narratives in the Film history, but for pushing himself and his crew to absurd and unprecedented lengths, again and again, in order to achieve the effects he demanded. Born Werner Stipetic in Munich on September 5, 1942, Herzog came of age in Sachrang, Bavaria, amid extreme poverty and destitution. After Herzog turned seventeen, a German film producer optioned one of his screenplays, then promptly destroyed the contract when he discovered the author’s age. Circa 1962, 20-year-old Herzog enrolled in the University of Munich as a history and literature student, and produced his first motion picture, the twelve minute Herakles, his second short Game in the Sand, and his third, the pacifist tract The Unprecedented Defense of Fortress Deutschkreuz.In 1963, he established his own production… read more
A precious paradigm of the way in which the art of film can turn something which seems fairly ordinary (to the 'average' person, if you will) into a philosophical element worth spectating and contemplating in our minds. It presents the unique versatility of cinema and its brilliance, and also gives us a chance to draw into a deep, almost meditative state-of-mind about the world.
The lines between fiction and documentary are blurred by Herzog in this film shot principally in the Sahara desert in 1969. It's completely non-narrative and consists mainly of long tracking shots which capture some hallucinatory images. The narration is a little pretentious but the use of music, especially the songs of Leonard Cohen, is effective. A film I'm glad I've seen but I won't be in a hurry to watch again...
A look at five varied musical compositions used by Werner Herzog as cues in his movies.