Werner Herzog’s latest documentary Into the Abyss opens in select theaters in November. You know how I love a good Herzog documentary. Almost as much as Werner Herzog loves the words dreams, soul, and abyss.
Into the Abyss focuses on death row inmate Michael Perry and his accomplice Jason Burkett. Both men blame the other for being responsible for their crime, which Burkett received a lesser sentence for. Herzog interviewed Perry 8 days before his execution in July 2010.
Although Herzog claims to have no political intentions with the film, Into the Abyss is bound to contribute to the larger debate about capital punishment in the United States. The trailer (embedded below) is wonderfully Herzogian with eerie music, unmatched narration, and sound bites only Herzog could get from the people closest to the crime.
Are you intrigued by what Werner Herzog will contribute to the capital punishment debate? He’s the only director who can make an apolitical political film. Sound off below.
Your Favorite Documentary Film
I couldn’t decide between an Errol Morris or a Werner Herzog documentary so here is a clip of the direcetors together at the Toronto Film Festival. Their bromance tickles me.
Werner Herzog’s 3D documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a bewildering film. While watching the images that Herzog and his team captured of the Chauvet cave unfold before you, you have to ask: Could any filmmaker other than Herzog have made this film? The answer, as far as I’m concerned, is resoundingly no. Herzog is truly the only filmmaker with enough fortitude to make a documentary like Cave of Forgotten Dreams. It is a wondrous exploration of what confounds people the most: human existence.
Chauvet Cave in southern France holds the oldest known cave paintings believed to be around 32,000 years old. Under the strict rules established by the French ministry of culture, Herzog and his team documented the paintings and the cave’s researchers. The documentary gives an unprecedented look at these gorgeous paintings and allows Herzog to be his intellectual best.
I did not see Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 3D. (Not by choice.) I wonder if the 3D really adds anything to the film. The paintings and Herzog’s presentation of them are so marvelously insightful and provoking that I can’t imagine how 3D adds much to the documentary. (Although if I get the opportunity, I will see it in 3D, the way Herzog intended for this movie to be seen.)
Film gives these paintings a true breath of life, connecting them to our present-day lives. Images like Fred Astaire’s infamous shadow dance, which Herzog incorporates into the film as part of a discussion of shadow, gains a new meaning. (The director discusses this scene at length in a recent NPR interview.)
The Chauvet paintings themselves are so mysterious and fascinating. It becomes clear throughout the film that the researchers will never find any true answers about them. All that can be made are informed assumptions about what may have been.
“It is as if the modern human soul awakened here…”
If you have ever dreamed of blindly following Werner Herzog into a cave, this is your chance.
Herzog’s latest documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams is one that I will take great strides to see this spring. The film about the Chauvet Cave is Herzog’s first 3-D film. Herzog went to great lengths to film the cave, receiving special permission from the French minister of culture and building custom 3-D cameras. The trailer was released in the past few days and I have goosebumps from watching it.
The most intriguing aspect of this documentary is Herzog’s decision to film it in 3-D. Can Herzog, of all directors, actually bring artistic merit to the much maligned technique? It was a challenging shoot and huge risk for Herzog. I’m excited to see it.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams releases on April 29.
It was only a matter of time before Michael Moore began work on his next documentary. Although it is still untitled, Moore’s latest project focuses on everyone’s favorite topic at the moment: the economy.
Sure, Moore’s documentaries are pretty one-sided but no one in Hollywood (just don’t tell Michael Moore that he is a member of anything Hollywood) has really addressed the economic crisis – sorry, downsized Oscar parties don’t count. Moore’s take is bound to be an interesting one and one that will spark a lot of debate.
Here is his teaser trailer for the documentary: