Herz aus Glas. Perhaps one of the most fabulous, under-the-skin brilliant movies I’ve seen in a while.
It’s ancient of course – from the mid 70s – but still feels unsettlingly not-done.
Ostenstibly it’s one of Herzog’s Bavarian films (as opposed to his tropical films) and tells the story of a 18th C Bavarian village whose livelihood is their glassworks which produces fabulous ruby-red glass. The foreman dies and takes the secret of the ruby glass to the grave. Which is where the story begins.
Actually, the whole power and magic of the film comes from Herzog’s visual genius and refusal to be hampered by anything like pace or explanation. There are so many beautiful, puzzling, brain-lodging images AND the fact that he has the entire cast perform under hypnosis. It’s a brilliant conceit for the village sleepwalking to their doom but it’s primarily a great AESTHETIC effect.
In his director’s commentary on the DVD I was watching (he has the most wonderful voice, Werner), he spoke most powerfully about needing to ‘wake images up’ from the stultifying emptiness of mass advertising. They need to be disconcerting and wonderful in sich, without ulterior motive. And there are so many moments when his hypnotized cast strike images that are entirely fresh and odd and oddly exhilarating.
The last head-scratching 10 minutes are perfect. Perhaps just for me? I do love a weird film:
Es mochte ihnen wie ein Zeichen von Hoffnung erscheinen, dass ihnen die Vögel aufs offene Meer hinaus folgten.