Ironic that this should have been charged with exploitation upon release since it is surely one of Herzog's most profoundly ethical documentaries. Even the animals seem to be having an okay time of it! It's a film that rewards gentle patience. Herzog has said it's something of a companion piece to 'Kaspar Hauser' but I found myself surprised as how often I was reminded of 'Fata Morgana'. This is one for the ages.
The camera always lingers and occasionally a piece by Bach or Vivaldi will punctuation the record. I walked away from this film with a deep gratitude for what I take for granted and a humbled awe at those who get up each day without being able to see or hear the world around them. LAND OF SILENCE AND DARKNESS is one of Herzog's earliest documentaries, but it remains one of his most impactful.
Similar to "Little Dieter" this documentary owes a great deal of its success to the amazing character at its focus. Fini is a remarkable woman possessing a rare strength to overcome her own disabilities and help others even more neglected and alone. Herzog's direction is wonderful in showing the relationships that form in this community and the differences each case brings. So much joy and sadness in a singular film.
what broke me was the laughter when they first flew in an airplane, the joy from talking to each other and playing with the animals, the giggle from feeling that buzz of a shower, or the change of expression from touching the vibration of a radio... And when he tried to feel out the tree when walked into a branch...
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.
so heavy i had to watch it in 20-minutes sections throughout the day. i was close to crying the entire final twenty minutes. fini's determination and courage to maintain her connection to the world and stay connected to others with her disability is sharply contrasted with the pain of watching people who had not received any care and had been lost in their own world, with fini unsuccessfully trying to break through.
Through main subject Fini, we only get a glimpse of what it is like to be her in an isolated world. It is joyous to observe her persistence in staying connected with life around her. It is also heartbreaking to see Fini unsuccessfully trying to make a connection with those locked into their world of darkness.
No one is better than Herzog at slightly shifting the camera away from what we think is the subject. All of a sudden, the theme/subject/truth is revealed by an aside, a shot that wasn't planned. This might be Herzog at his most gentle. And holy fuck am I grateful that I have my eyes and ears intact.