The real title of this post should be my “How much I loved German Film Class my Junior year of college.” Cause I never would have seen any of these films without that amazing little class. And I never would have become aware of Werner Herzog, who outside of say Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and Christopher Nolan is my MOST FAVORITE FILMMAKER OF ALL TIME!
The dude is the coolest MFer on the planet. He’s got this wicked sweet german accent and to hear him describe the agony and the ecstasy associated with “Fitzcarraldo” is enough to make your head explode. The amount of pain and anguish this one single person withstood to make that film is astounding. I was so enthralled with the film I watched it four times. Once with the regular english dubbing. Then with the commentary. Then with subtitles (Over German). And then a fourth time in Dutch with subtitles because in the commentary he claims this is the truest version for some reason.
This movie is fucking mind blowing. It’s all about the rubber trade in South America in the 1800’s. The rubber barons down there had so much money they would feed it to fish. Fitzcarraldo wanted to build a magnificent opera house in the jungle. But he needed to raise more money. He intended to earn this money by taking a short cut on the river by transporting a giant steamship over a mountain. So they legitimately moved an entire steam ship over a mountain to the river on the other side.
In “Burden Of Dreams” we find out all the insane terrors that went down during filming. Herzog stepped into a mud pit filled with broken glass. One of the crew who was chainsawing a tree was bitten by the most poisonous snake in the jungle and instead of waiting for the doctor and likely dying he simply chainsawed his own foot off. And most wonderfully was his stories of working with Klaus Kinski. An incredibly talented insanely moody and awful person to work with (Check out Herzog’s film “My Best Friend”) who is also Natasha Kinski’s father. They made a bunch of movies together and Kinski is amazing in this film.
Next up on the German film class roster was a little film called “Men…” (German translation was “Der Men”). It was a pretty dated looking movie from the 80’s, with dumb haircuts and dumber outfits but there was something special about this film. It was unlike any American movie I had ever seen. It carried true male emotion and vulnerability. Something not really allowed in normal “American” films. The main character was a typical workaholic who took everything in his life for granted. One day he comes home to find out that his wife has left him. He tracks her down and sees she’s now shacking up with a local musician. Blind with jealousy he somehow manages to become roommates with the musician and hire him to work for his own company. This could have gone many stupid and cliched routes but it didn’t. It stayed on a path the was true, felt right, and connected with me something fierce. You just felt like you knew the characters and could completely relate to what they we’re going through. Can’t recommend this film enough. See it if you can find it.
Last but not least, another masterpiece from my main man Werner Herzog “Aguirre: Wrath of God”. Good God this movie is awesome! And to top it off I was really into the Marz Volta at the same time I was into this movie so I decided to hit mute and crank up “De-loused in the comatorium”. Wow did they go well together. I’m not saying it’s better than “Dark Side Of The Moon” over “The Wizard Of Oz” but it totally is! Seriously give it a try sometime.
And if you enjoy German cinema than come on down to The Annoyance Theater 851 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL on Sunday Aug 9, 2015 from 5:30 PM to 7 PM for my staged screenplay reading! And because Werner Herzog will be giving an authentic German accent lesson! (Werner’s not going to be there nor giving German accent lessons).