Day 6: FATA MORGANA (Werner Herzog, Germany, 1971)
Yesterday was Herzog’s 74th birthday so it seemed only appropriate to commemorate by picking a selection from his vast body of work. This is, by nearly all accounts, something of an outlier in a filmography that already likes to keep to the peripheries, a pseudo-documentary/speculative essay film that in typical Herzogian fashion whirls about in unexpected and often perplexing directions. For me the central conceit of the “fata morgana”—a specific type of mirage where edifices seem to emerge upon the horizon—immediately became crucial in keeping me engaged: if moment-to-moment I couldn’t quite string together what was going on, I nevertheless found myself entranced by the idiosyncratic manner in which images, sounds, songs, and ideas are compressed into beguiling if elusive configurations. I’m admittedly not much of a partisan of this much-loved filmmaker, and not quite willing to attribute the profundity I’ve seen attributed to this particular experiment either, but it’s undeniably the product of a singular creative vision. If I’m being honest, I most appreciated the opportunity to hear the great Lotte Eisner’s grave, gravelly voice.
[Watch Fata Morgana on Fandor here.]