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.
Of all the (many) crazy ways Werner Herzog has made his films, this must be one of the strangest: for this story of madness and prophecy, made at his peak, he had almost all the cast act while under hypnosis. The result: bizarre, appropriately trance-like cinema that could be no one’s but his.
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.