The free cinema program ‘The Wrath and Reveries of Werner Herzog’ opens this Friday night at the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA and will run until 19 August 2017. The program explores the films of German filmmaker Werner Herzog, whose strange and spectacular works have enthralled audiences for nearly half a century.
The opening night begins at 6.00pm with a screening of Herzog’s recent documentary Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World 2016, a wonderfully engaging examination of the joys and ordeals that the internet has wrought upon the world. It is a captivating insight into our technological future, guided by Herzog’s singular presence.
WHEN WE SPEAK OF THE HORRORS OF THE INTERNET, IT’S NOT THE INTERNET WE ARE TALKING ABOUT – IT’S HUMANS. AND HUMAN NATURE MANIFESTS ITSELF IN A WAY WE HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE, BECAUSE IT’S ANONYMOUS AND IT’S ON A MASSIVE SCALE
The screening will be accompanied by Ramin Bahrani’s short film Plastic Bag 2009, which features Herzog as the inner monologue of a plastic bag travelling across the globe in search of its Maker. Bahrani takes this potentially saccharine premise and elevates it with his keen eye and rich understanding of human nature. His inventive script is brought to life by Herzog’s incomparable delivery.
At 8.15pm, the spectacular Aguirre, the Wrath of God 1972 – a journey down the Amazon and into the heart of darkness. This masterpiece of German cinema will be presented on a lush 35mm film print – imported directly from the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin. The film is a mesmerising tale of greed and obsession, following a group of 16th Century conquistadors as they search for the mythical riches of El Dorado in the heart of the Amazon jungle. It is one of the director’s greatest achievements and should not be missed on the big screen.
THE JUNGLE OF ‘AGUIRRE’ IS NEVER SOME LUSH, BEAUTIFUL ENVIRONMENT THERE FOR DECORATION, AS IT MIGHT BE IN A TELEVISION COMMERCIAL. IT’S A REPRESENTATION OF OUR MOST INTENSE AND FORCEFUL DREAMS, OUR DEEPEST EMOTIONS AND NIGHTMARES
The following day, Saturday 3 June, catch Herzog’s debut feature film Signs of Life 1968 at 1pm. It is a powerful depiction of the deranging influence of war and isolation. It is the story of a German soldier Stroszek, who is sent to a Greek island to recuperate after being wounded in combat – but instead, he begins to succumb to a creeping madness. It is the work of a first-time filmmaker with an expansive vision and a key moment in the director’s storied career.
‘SIGNS OF LIFE’ CONCERNS ITSELF NOT WITH A PARTICULAR ERA OR MILITARY CONFLICT, BUT WITH THE IDEA OF PUTTING INSTRUMENTS OF WAR INTO THE HANDS OF INDIVIDUALS.
Then, at 2.45pm, see the cult favourite Even Dwarfs Started Small 1970. When the inmates of an unnamed institution rebel against their guards and escape their prison, the freedom they discover only reveals the bizarre mix of grotesqueries and banalities of which they are capable. This surreal film is less interested in a strict narrative than the blackly comic anarchic mood conjured by the activities of its characters. It is a beguiling exploration of not only cruel restrictions of fascism but also of the darkness that lies in the heart of mankind when no longer shackled by societal bounds.
Be sure to mark your calendar for the other free Werner Herzog screenings that will be happening throughout June.
QAGOMA acknowledges the generous assistance of Werner Herzog Film GmbH, Vienna; the National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra; and the Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin in providing materials for this program. Program curated by Robert Hughes, Australian Cinémathèque.
Robert Hughes is Curatorial Assistant, Australian Cinémathèque
Feature image: Production still from Signs of Life 1968 / Director: Werner Herzog / Image courtesy: Werner Herzog Film GmbH