Sunday, August 27, 2006


A Saturday double-feature of Herzog documentaries:

Who better to document the Kalachakra Initiation at the original site of the Buddha's enlightenment (Bodh Gaya) than Werner Herzog? He knows when to let the visuals speak for themselves, when to ask questions (some of the Dalai Lama), and when to briefly narrate historical and mythic texts. This is not Herzog's most aesthetically pleasing work, but the subject matter is fascinating and the soundtrack rules.

This is more the 'usual' Herzog territory than was The Wheel of Time, and is a more highly polished work. It features a slightly kooky inventor out to pilot a dirigible through the rainforest canopy in Guyana. Said inventor had tried a similar experiment before, and his cinematographer was killed when the airship crashed into tall trees without adequate safety gear.

Herzog adopts a meandering style in The White Diamond, but never loses the central story arc of a driven scientist fighting inner demons and outer reality. Interesting side characters include Marc Anthony the local shaman/diamond miner, who has the soul of a poet and a deep love for his rooster. Some truly spectacular footage of the rainforest and waterfalls and up-close critters of the forest canopy, with another excellent soundtrack to boot.

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