Shot under extreme conditions and inspired by Mayan creation theory, the film contemplates the illusion of reality and the possibility of capturing for the camera something which is not there. It is about the mirages of nature—and the nature of mirage.
For Werner Herzog, a documentary is an act of adventure, a search for truth beyond facts. This trek across Africa—during which Herzog and several of the crew were thrown in jail!—is a hallucinatory quest to find man’s spot in the universe, mixing pop songs and creation myths into a wonder.
My absolute favourite Herzog film. Colonialism's fever dream. The apogee of transcendent materialism! Such characters you meet; such sights. Pilgrims. Tableaux vivants. Buffalo as flat as the drawings on the walls in 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams'.
Herzog at his most abstract, making it something of an acquired taste, but a real gem. Through the primordial landscape, he evokes the awe of the creation of the earth, before finally arriving at how it's now a playground for tourists and film crews. At least, I think—all I can say for sure is that he's inspired by the cosmic, but much more ironic about man's place in it. So long, Marianne.
I'm surprised that I didn't get bored. Who knew staring out a car window for over an hour could be so interesting? I particularly like the first section with the creation myth narration. I might watch this again, actually.
Shot in southern Sahara. While off-screen voices tell us ancient myths about Creation and Paradise, we watch images of desolation. We hear a tale about Life and we see skeleton of animals and iron frameworks. Herzog calls FATA MORGANA a sci-fi movie since he explains its plot (!) as the description of a death planet by aliens. It's not at all evident for the viewer. Incantatory, hypnotic, highly recommended. Though.
Usually I appreciate Herzog's works. But this film is too (pseudo-)amateurish in many respects. Some good visual sequences and the irony of the third part don't compensate for the strange and somewhat incompatible choice of pre-existing music (Herzog has done much better in "Lessons of Darkness"), the poor sound quality, the awfull first narrators and the badly improvised sequences.
Beyond any parody of hard-core arthouse cinema. FATA MORGANA could be used, along with Schlingensief's 100 JAHRE ADOLF HITLER, to calibrate one's rating scale. This must be absolute zero. – Don't even expect decent visuals to accompany the unrelated garbage being read out: Arid landscapes are panned and tracked in dull colours and a maddeningly blinkered 4:3 ratio. Be sure to watch all the rest too.
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.