Monday, August 10, 2009

Fata Morgana

'Fata Morgana' is a film in three parts (entitled "The Creation", "Paradise" and "The Golden Age") which consists of footage shot in the African desert. Such commentary/narration as there is comprises readings from the sacred Mayan text 'Popol Vuh'. As well as landscapes, townships and abandoned military and industrial machinery, Herzog and his small crew (four men including the director) come across indigenous people as well as a smattering of eccentric westerners including a schoolteacher who instructs her charges in German. The sentence they're learning when Herzog films them is "Blitzkreig ist Wahnsinn".

'Fata Morgana' is hypnotic and, appropriately for a film whose very title means "mirage", hallucinatory. There's no adequate way of writing about it. More than any other film I think I've seen, 'Fata Morgana' exists on its own terms, refuses to define itself, and is its own achievement.

Here are some images, punctuated with Herzog's own words:

The first scene of the film is made up of eight shots of eight different airplanes landing one after the other. I had the feeling that audiences who were still watching by the sixth or seventh landing would stay to the end.

All the machinery ... was part of an abandoned Algerian army depot. I liked the desolation and the remains of civilization that were out there.

It was as if I woke up after a night of drunkenness and experienced a moment of real clarity. All I had to do was capture the images I saw in the desert and I would have my film.

Maybe more than any other films I have made it is one that needs to be completed by the audience, which means all feelings, thoughts and interpretations are welcome.

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