Thursday, June 10, 2004

Herzog in Los Angeles


I just came back from a film screening in Goethe institute. It was a screening of excerpts from Werner Herzog's old movies plus one of his recent documentaries, a great short movie about the idea of 'time.' Seeing these movies was great by itself, but the best thing about tonight was that Herzog was there too!

I never forget seeing his The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser when I was in high school. I saw it four times, in "Asre Jadid," a movie theater you could go any time between 10 am to 10 pm and be sure there is a great movie being screened in one of its two theaters. The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser was one of the first works I saw that changed my mind about understanding cinema. I can't explain how much I enjoyed the movie when I realized I can see meanings beyond the story that was narrated. Kaspar Hauser taught me how to understand metaphors in art forms other than literature. It taught me to appreciate cinema as an art form.

The second Herzog movie I saw was Fitzcarraldo. I saw it in Tehran's Fajr Film Festival.. It was in German, without any subtitle, with all the scenes showing Claudia Cardinale cut from the movie. But again seeing it was an experience. Just seeing the unforgetable eccentric face of Klaus Kinsky trying to pass a ship through the jungle (instead of river!) to build an opera house in the middle of Amazon was an amazing poetic imagery. Who else other than Herzog could think of an idea like this to make a movie?

Tonight at the end of the conversation someone asked him about his opinion on being listed by Variety (or some other magazine) among the 100 great directors of twentieth century. He asked Herzog what does he think about having his name next to directors like Spielberg. Herzog's answer was pretty witty: he said he thinks it is a great honor for Spielberg!


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  2. herzog is a cinematic poet of no compare.

  3. Hauser had a similar impact on me - a remarkable film. Beyond K. Hauser and Kinski films are there other essential Herzog you could recommend?