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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans’

24 June 2010
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans 
directed by Werner Herzog.
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... WernerHerzog’s Bad Lieutenant provokes two questions even before we’ve thought much about the film. Both are about timing. Why did it take the best part of a year after its US premiere to find a screen in the ...

In the Cave

Peter Campbell: Cave of Forgotten Dreams

28 April 2011
... ordinary stylistic assumptions that there still are archaeologists looking for a reason to push it forward: could the carbon-dated charcoal used in the drawings have been made from fossilised wood? WernerHerzog persuaded the authorities to let him make a film of the site. Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a 3D documentary, has just been released. Most art documentaries show you things that are no more than a ...
21 November 1985
Money into Light 
by John Boorman.
Faber, 241 pp., £4.95, September 1985, 0 571 13731 8
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... Californian celebration Garlic is as good as ten mothers, Blank had the good fortune to be stranded in exactly the right place at exactly the right time: up river with the single-minded director WernerHerzog and his bewildered cast and crew – everyone talked – during a particularly trying stage of the production. Among several unforgettable images, the one which seems most effectively to ...
22 June 1989
What am I doing here 
by Bruce Chatwin.
Cape, 367 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 224 02634 8
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... a substantial and sympathetic chapter on the plight of Algerians in France; some vignettes of the art world. The section devoted to ‘Encounters’ – with Nadezhda Mandelstam, André Malraux, WernerHerzog, the architect Konstantin Melnikov and the fashion-designer Madeleine Vionnet – is balanced by odder meetings: an investigation into an Indian ‘wolf-boy’, a report on a sinister ...


David Trotter: Bearness

7 November 2019
... a righteously locked-and-loaded mentality to see off.Others have not been so lucky. Timothy Treadwell, for example, an ardent conservationist and would-be bear-whisperer, ended up in a documentary by WernerHerzog, the queasily engrossing Grizzly Man (2005). Treadwell spent 13 summers camping among the grizzlies in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve. During the last five of these, he recorded ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Nosferatu the Vampyre’

10 October 2019
... vs. Kramer and All That Jazz), and we may feel that Roman Polanski’s Tess belongs to both old and new worlds, but still: it was a good year for otherness. This feeling is strongly supported by WernerHerzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre, a careful reworking of and elaborate homage to F.W. Murnau’s 1922 film, and also a good indication that weirdness in the movies arrives and vanishes as it is ...

Don’t look at trees

Greg Grandin: Da Cunha’s Amazon

8 October 2014
Scramble for the Amazon and the ‘Lost Paradise’ of Euclides da Cunha 
by Susanna Hecht.
Chicago, 612 pp., £31.50, April 2013, 978 0 226 32281 0
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... writers, sometimes in the same sentence, as a fundamental truth and a great lie, as hope and despair, innocence and sin, heaven and hell, virginal and an ‘overwhelming fornication’ (the last by WernerHerzog). These oppositions were also applied to discussions about politics, race and economic utility. Hegel never set foot in South America but described the Amazon as ‘monstrous’ and compared ...


Hilary Mantel: In the Waiting Room

14 August 2008
... a word of it. Five o’clock, an irritable man tells me off: ‘When you phone, you take us away from our patients.’ What do you talk about, in these circumstances? We talk about Cardinal Wolsey, WernerHerzog, Uncle Ebenezer in Kidnapped, my brother’s dislike of cucumber. The surgeon had talked of gross infection, abscesses, adhesions, perforations. But green salad and odd film directors keep us ...

It could be me

Joanna Biggs: Sheila Heti

24 January 2013
How Should a Person Be? 
by Sheila Heti.
Harvill Secker, 306 pp., £16.99, January 2013, 978 1 84655 754 5
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... But what if she’d just prefer to be one of the characters in Made in Chelsea? Heti, who turned 36 on Christmas Day, has said that one of the starting points of the novel (others were Warhol and WernerHerzog and Kierkegaard and Otto Rank and Oscar Wilde) was the first season of The Hills, an American structured reality show that began on MTV when Heti was 28: ‘I was like, what if we cast ...


Iain Sinclair: The Peruvian Corporation of London

10 October 2019
... He was carrying ‘a carbine of the latest model and bandoliers of cartridges like necklaces’. This was Carlos Fermín Fitzcarrald, a brutal and precipitate rubber baron, and the inspiration for WernerHerzog’s very different, white-suited Klaus Kinski in Fitzcarraldo. Stahl was a later emanation, imposing his own myths on those of the tribal people, successfully colonising the riverside ...

Bin the bric-à-brac

Joanne O’Leary: Sara Baume

4 January 2018
A Line Made by Walking 
by Sara Baume.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £12.99, February 2017, 978 1 78515 041 8
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... how seriously to take her backstory. Early in the novel, she explains how her self-imposed exile came about. One evening in her Dublin bedsit, she was watching Encounters at the End of the World, WernerHerzog’s documentary about penguins in the Antarctic. A scientist describes the phenomenon whereby seemingly healthy penguins abandon their colonies: what awaits them on the horizon, Herzog says ...


Iain Sinclair: The Thames

25 June 2009
Thames: Sacred River 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Vintage, 608 pp., £14.99, August 2008, 978 0 09 942255 6
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... for the Isle of Dogs, that unlucky swamp, were shredded for the construction of a shelf of towers. Michael Heseltine, a wild-haired, mad-eyed visionary (Klaus Kinski to Margaret Thatcher’s WernerHerzog), pushed Docklands across the Thames to the East Greenwich Peninsula, Bugsby’s Marshes. The obsessive, neurotic and delusional Millennium Dome concept was a remake of Fitzcarraldo, a film in which ...

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