Monday, November 05, 2007

Soldat Des Kinos

Found this stalking around Youtube the other day: Werner Herzog gets sniped during an interview in LA.

The scene brought back memories of when I was up at The Evergreen State College (Olympia WA) in the wilder, geoduckier recesses of Christmas Tree Land. The elevator-permeating, un-deoderized reek of hippy nature. Dodging the crossfire of hard right, WWIII-survivalist buckshot and return salvos of hockey-puck-solid vegan brownies and equally dense pamphlets from the tree-huggers' Ewok city (save on housing expenses!). At the cafeteria, stuffing napkin-wrapped slices of the single pizza into my cargo pants and making a run for it before catching lectures on animal cruelty. At the "advanced", after-hours seminar, getting ass-raped by the howling feminists wielding metal strap-ons and Xeroxed copies of Betty Friedman and Ayn Rand, and liking it. "Envy this, you gazing, filthy fucking Freud-spawn!" The countless raging, styling punks, post-punks, cyberpunks, X-punks. Passing by the field on the way to the bus stop, tossing back a stray tye-dye Frisbee or Koosh ball with a smile to the eternal nudist colony / Woodstock, splayed out there in all it's green, hung-out glory, where the matte white grid and floodlights of a football field would have been installed anywhere else. Keeping my brain from being Nosferatu-ed by the ex-Microserf, hypergeek posthumanists operating the meth-lab and Helios neural uplink in the library.

And let's not forget the largest organization at Evergreen - The EQA - The Evergreen Queer Alliance. Rainbows and pink triangles proudly strewn across every classroom and dormitory. Using the term "gay" in a derogatory manner would get your ass beaten and stuffed headfirst into the trashcan, licking empty hummus containers. Every day is opposite day at Evergreen!

*Wistful tear*

So anyway, during my last semester at Evergreen, in my independent study film theory / production class, I remembered writing a film analysis paper on Werner Herzog, who is often regarded as one of Germany's greatest and most controversial filmmakers "with a singular vision continually blurring the fine line between reality and fiction". (Paper is now lost to the hard drive fairy). It focused on his documentary "Mein liebster Feind - Klaus Kinski" which was itself a documentary of his feature film-documentary ambiguous film "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" and his relationship with famous/infamous German actor Klaus Kinski. The film itself opens with juxtaposed scenes of Kinski curled up in his filthy apartment, having a nervous/megalomaniacal break on camera, and then on his "Jesus Tour", a one-man show in which Kinski reinterpreted the Gospels with Jesus as a ranting psychopath.

"Aguirre" centers on the travels of Lope de Aguirre, who leads a group of conquistadores down the Orinoco River in South America in search of the legendary city of gold, El Dorado. The filming itself was perhaps a more difficult and insane task than the Amazonian bouillon journey it was based on. The cast and crew climbed up mountains, hacked through thick jungle, and rode ferocious Amazonian river rapids on rafts built by natives. At one point, a storm caused a river to flood, burying the film sets underneath several feet of water and destroying all of the rafts built for the film. This flooding was immediately incorporated into the story, as a sequence including a flood and subsequent rebuilding of rafts was shot.

At one point mid-way through the production of Aguirre, Kinski, in a characteristic fit, "quit" the movie in the middle of a scene and started walking off into deep sweltering Amazon jungle. Herzog then threatened to shoot Kinski with eight bullets and use the ninth on himself if he didn't turn around instantly and finish the movie.

"It's not an everyday thing but... it doesn't surprise me to be shot at."

"Of course, [the danger] is out there, but so what? I've done good battle and I've been a good soldier of cinema, and that's what I want to be."

--Werner Herzog, on being shot in the abdomen during an interview in LA, and his filmmaking style.

Soldier indeed.

(optional addendum)


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