Casual Chronicle of Film Production as Frankensteinian Violation of Natural Laws


Probably the best and most compulsively fascinating movie ever made about a moviemaker, Les Blank and Maureen Gosling’s epochal 1982 documentary has been judged as being a more significant work than the film it chronicles, Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo. As if you could ever separate them—they stand as the schizophrenic halves of a single Herculean narrative and a single going-crazy-in-the-jungle experience. It’s a shame Criterion couldn’t have boxed them together, but this DVD remains essential: Blank/Gosling’s casual chronicle of film production as Frankensteinian violation of natural laws is digitally transferred, and its portrait of Herzog, the world’s most notorious filmmaking Odysseus/ Faust, is supplemented by Blank’s 1980 short Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (in which the man cooks and eats footwear in response to betting Errol Morris that the procrastinating documentarian-to-be would never finish a feature); diary entries by Blank and Gosling; commentary by all three filmmakers; footage later used for My Best Fiend; and a new interview with Herzog, in which he sets straight the career-assassinating prejudices and errors that Burden of Dreams itself has promulgated. With no less than three films opening here this year, Herzog may just experience a renaissance.