Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Wild Blue Yonder

I just watched a rather amazing film by Werner Herzog (now one of my favorite directors since the release of Grizzly Man in 2005). This film recombines documentary footage from the inside of a NASA space vessel, general NASA goings on, diving in the Artic sea (beneath a layer of ice), interviews with mathematicians and what appear to be theoretical physics/astro-physics specialists, archival footage from the early days of flight, along with footage of actor Brad Douriff framing the action. The sections with Douriff essentially re-tell the documentary footage into a science fiction narrative, where an alien micro-organism leaks into the world from an ancient space craft, which prompts the CIA and NASA to send a mission to the outer reaches of the solar system in order to discover other habitable planets. What they discover is the frozen, dying planet, ostensibly home of Douriff's extraterrestrial character.

The addition of a rather amazing soundtrack from avant-garde cellist Ernst Reijseger, Senegalese vocalist Mola Sylla, and a group of Sardinian tenors (Tenores di Orosei) really orients the film toward much more than an awkward composite of contradictory and discontinuous takes. I don't think that any of the footage appears fully integrated into a believable narrative whole, that is to say that their status as documentary footage for other means remains despite the general narrative attempts to integrate these elements into an overall, but at the same time this doesn't seem like some sort of failure as a result. Instead the overall value of the film is bifurcated between its status as framed by narrative (and therefore fictions and fantasy) but also its "truth-value" (inherent for Andre Bazin in the ontology of the film form itself).

Below is the trailer for The Wild Blue Yonder (Herzog 2005).

Herzog himself suggests a new approach to "empirical," "documentary," or "argumentative" filmmaking in this poorly conducted with Henry Rollins, as "ecstatic truth."

Also, of marginal but hilarious interest, is this interview with the BBC where Herzog is actually hit by the bullet of sniper in the hills of LA, and insists on continuing the interview regardless.


John Foster Cartwright said...
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John Foster Cartwright said...

I messed up.
This post though, made me think of fast cheap and out of control by errol morris. Yes? Morris? He is da BAUM!