In a period of transition from an ancient to a modern era, the prophet Hias, who sees future images of the forthcoming end of the world, foretells the people of a forest town in Bavaria of a fire in the glass blowing factory, source of prosperity for the whole town.
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I'm not sure Herzog is a good storyteller—a brilliant filmmaker, certainly, good at developing concepts and finding/conjuring sights and sounds that are cosmic and provocative. But a film like Heart of Glass, rich in ideas as it is, suffers a bit from an absence of narrative clarity and momentum. Even if, as conjuring acts go, the hypnosis provides an inspired, beautiful metaphor for a stumbling civilization.
Herzog is capable of making great films and terrible films. This is somewhere in between, but it's definitely not one of his best. Some interesting surrealist scenes don't make up for the lack of interest of the whole.
Despite initially enigmatic formalism, there are glimmers of future Herzogion poetics. Yet, what's most amazingly symbolic is the extended shot where glass-makers work glass, tying the polarities of heated air and maluable material; further representing the clouds and earth, liars and thieves, soothsayers and capitalists. To foresee results of labor one must give in to uncertainties behind dreams or future visions.