Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Last night I read a powerful set of excerpts from Werner Herzog's jungle diaries, kept while filming Fitzcarroldo, in the Spring issue of the Paris Review, encapsulated under the heavy title "Language Itself Resists." It was the sort of experience I have whenever confronted with Herzog's work; I'm stopped short by how thoroughly lived it is. His movies and ideas are not always even that good, but the way they are interwoven with his curiosity and restless mind kills me. Here is an excerpt of the excerpts:
The power is still out. Evening descended on the countryside. What would happen if the rain forest wilted like a bouquet of flowers? Around me insects are dying, for which they are lying on their backs. A woman in the neighborhood is suckling a newborn puppy after her baby died from parasites; I've seen this done before with piglets.
He goes on with more stories about pigs and snakes and fucking on rope bridges and getting that giant ship over the mountain. Here's hoping more people read this and persuade him to publish the whole thing.

I went to the library to seek out the screenplay for Fitzcarroldo, listening to the new Grizzly Bear album which is available from Amazon for $3.99 as a download and is likely as good as everybody says it is, though I am skeptical that so many people actually like something this good. Doing so is my little joke on Grizzly Man, the documentary of Herzog's I suspect most people have seen.

Grizzly Man has a tremendous soundtrack (listen) by Richard Thompson featuring contributions by Jim O'Rourke and Henry Kaiser, whose secondary career as cold-water diver is the subject of Herzog's most recent film Encounters at the End of the World

There is also a great documentary Herzog made about making the soundtrack to Grizzly Man.

So I found Fitzcarroldo, but I thought maybe I should rewatch it and Burden of Dreams, the documentary Les Blank made about the fateful making of that movie, and put it back on the shelf.

Next to it, though, was Of Walking in Ice, a journal of a walk Herzog took from Munich to Paris in 1974 to visit an ailing friend, convinced that the person would until at least after he arrived. I can't wait to wade into it. Like I said just brushing up against Herzog's personality excites me, and checking out books and posting video clips in a blog few people read is not quite hauling a boat over a mountain because I am willing to die for my dreams, but it is something.


  1. Maybe you should make a documentary about thinking about watching these documentaries about making documentaries? I knew postmodernism wasn't dead...

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