A portrait of 56-year-old Fini Straubinger, who has been blind and deaf since she was young. Moving and intense, Land of Silence and Darkness is widely considered one of Werner Herzog’s greatest documentaries.
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This is Herzog at his least manipulative as a documentary filmmaker and as a result maybe his most affecting work. What starts out as the portrait of one woman overcoming incredible odds becomes more and more a parable on the human longing for connection and affection. The last scene is heart breaking and upsetting but also beautiful in a way. The same goes for the movie as a whole.
Beautiful, heavy doc by Herzog that, as others have noted, will make you happy for all you have. Its choice of subject—a high-functioning deaf-blind woman who serves, in effect, as an ambassador for a community largely cut off from communication—moves the film from exploitation to advocacy. This is an ode to the sanctity of human consciousness in all forms. Herzog would make better docs, but this is hard to forget.
3.5. Fini, through whom the story is told, is a bridge between the people around her and also between the viewer and her world. So the protagonist is beautifully chosen, but the film is somehow sloppy and very depressing and uncomfortable but not in a manner that it has a trajectory. And that makes it confusing, a feeling that is certainly too much, added to the depressive slope.