7.20.2009

The White Diamond.

First of all I’ve been really getting down with the Hogs docs recently. He has an uncanny skill for spotting points of interest, adjusting the direction of his films accordingly and leading us to unforeseen conclusions. I think this confidence as a director comes from a mix of experience, conviction and the independent spirit and financing of his films. He is certainly no Hollywood bureaucrat. The calculated risks he takes while shooting instantly make most documentaries look lame by comparison.

Often doc directors like to think of themselves as “invisible”. Obviously this is BS, the presence of a camera changes the situation and peoples behavior immediately. To counter this Werner is integral to his films. He is often emotionally invested and his aggressive and confrontational personal manner really cuts through the crap.

To top it all off, my favourite thing about his documentary films is the technique I am going to call the ‘Herzog hooooold’. There is clearly an unwritten rule for when camera operating for Herzog.

“After the subject has finished speaking, just hold! I will not talk, you will not move, we hoooooold!”

The nuances of character revealed in these short awkward pauses speak volumes and I haven’t seen a Herzog yet that didn’t make me laugh out loud during one of these shots.

The White Diamond follows Airship engineer Dr. Graham Dorrington as he leads an expedition to explore the Guyana jungle tree canopy using his newly fabricated airship. Grahams’ back-story includes a previous attempt which led to the loss of his friend documentary filmmaker Dieter Plage, a tragedy in which he clearly feels at least in part responsible. The expedition continues but not without turbulence and Werner steps in at times to secure the footage he needs by risking himself in an early test flight. As their trips become increasingly more successful our attention is drawn towards the personal story of one of the locals helping out the expedition. There is a certain poetry to the twists and turns as Herzog’s shoot everything ideology pays off for the better again. Essential viewing.

Also see: Grizzly Man, Encounters at the end of the world.

2 comments:

the coelacanth said...

so you finally watched it, eh? i knew you'd love it, this is a special one to me, and one of my fave herzog docs. you are certainly correct about the very unique "herzog hooooooold", which often gets more out of his subjects than the sometimes rote/trite answers they've prepared. i still haven't watched encounters, something that i'll remedy very soon. troy? malcolm?

Captain said...

loved the breakdancer by the falls