Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Wild Blue Yonder

The plot of this 2005 Werner Herzog feature intrigued me. I loves me some Herzog, in fact, I've never seen one of his movies that I didn't love. The premise is basically this, aliens came to earth about a century ago and by now, with the combined efforts of the aliens and the humans, earth is basically useless and long ago everyone has left. It's a simple premise, really, and Herzog tends to excel with simple premises. I mean, Fitzcarraldo, my favorite of his features, is about getting a ship over a mountain pass, that's it, and it's great. But here, Herzog falls shockingly flat. He uses footage from underwater filming, NASA footage, and historical clips spliced together with the footage he shot for the film. Sounds perfect for him, but it doesn't work. The footage is out of place, doesn't follow a linear sense of time period and often is clearly not what the characters are saying it is. For example, the alien is, in one moment, talking about how desolate the earth has become and Herzog cuts to footage of a barren wasteland, but even with his editing and post production layers you can still tell that the footage is underwater as things actually float by at a point. Then there's the alien himself, the only part Herzog actually shot and all he does is walk around in abandoned locales and talk to the camera, lecturing us about how we screwed up. Even though earth is supposed to be empty, there's actually a moment when the alien has to raise his voice because some dogs are barking loudly in the background. Werner Herzog is famous for his unrelenting focus on quality and his extreme focus on details, but neither is apparent here. In fact, this flick is very very amateurish. It's almost like what someone with tons of resources but almost no experience would produce. Because it was Herzog, it was especially disappointing.


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