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Thursday, May 13, 2010


This dark fable from Werner Herzog was made during the brief commercial & critical heyday of the German New Wave. The story sounds right up his eccentric alley: In medieval days, an isolated Bavarian town goes collectively mad when their sole claim to fame & financial stability, the secret formula of ‘Ruby Glass,’ dies with the town’s master glass maker. But the film is sluggish when it means to be dreamlike, and Herzog is pointlessly abstruse in getting his themes across. Was he just stretching his material with all those brooding landscape shots of unrelated vistas? The film acquired a certain notoriety when Herzog claimed he had hypnotized his cast to get the perfs he wanted. But, like the self-absorbed actor who's so proud that he made himself cry, Herzog mesmerized his players rather than his audience. There are rapt & beautiful things in here, but Herzog was either unwilling or unable to properly organize them. It’s a crying shame.

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