German Directors Latest Project
Film Director Werner Herzog

Fresh from the exciting news that Martin Scorsese is to be directing his next film in 3D comes confirmation that German auteur Werner Herzog is embarking on a similar course. However, rather than utilising the technology to create the type of blockbuster with which it’s become associated, Herzog is to use the new technology for another of his extravagant left field documentary projects.

Never a man to shy from a challenge, Herzog has braved Alaskan bears in ‘Grizzly Man’, the jungles of Vietnam in 'Little Dieter Needs To Fly' and Antarctica for his extraordinary film centered around the McMurdo Research Station in ‘Encounters At The End Of The World’. He's pulled boats up mountains, worked extensively with the craziest/most dangerous film actor of all time (Kinski) and been shot at on camera (which he memorably shrugged off as 'not a serious bullet'). One never knows what to expect from the teutonic master but it seems that for this project Herzog has gained extra special permission to film inside the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc cave, a site in the Ardèche region of southern France that contains the earliest known cave paintings, dating back at least 30,000 years.

The Chauvet cave, discovered only 16 years ago, has remained virtually unseen by modern eyes and contains remarkably realistic depictions of lions, panthers, bears, owls, rhinos and hyenas. French authorities have deemed the risk of degradation too high to allow tourists to enter the site so Herzog's film may well be the only opportunity for the public to see these incredible paintings up close. In a dramatic coup for archeologists, artists and film makers alike, only himself and a few cameramen will be allowed to film inside the cave. But this is unlikely to be to the detriment of the finished documentary, as the footage captured by his two man team in ‘Encounters’ proved.

"It's a film that I'd like to make because I'm so fascinated about cave art," reports Herzog "It's still tough to bring equipment down. You are not allowed to touch the wall or the floor or anything. I can have only three people with me, and I can use only lights which must not create temperature. For each shot, because the technology is not really advanced, we had to build own camera from zero using a specific configuration of lenses and mirrors. We are doing something nobody has done with 3D."

The method of 3D he proposes to use is a more subtle technique that ends at your peripheral visual field, unlike the kind used in films like Avatar which take that further back until it encompasses you.
"I do it [3D] very reduced and as if it was the most natural way to do it," he says.

The director has been criticised in the past for his rather poetic bending of the facts which may or may not be entirely fair, as bias exists within any ‘factual’ film making. Any dubiety over facts is balanced by the intelligence, humour and humanism that Herzog brings to each successive project. He is searching for what he calls 'ecstatic truth' by which we think he means the very essence of a thing, which goes beyond a simple visual or historical truth. Beautiful cinematography is guaranteed as will be his unmistakably laconic yet no doubt moving observations as he narrates our path through the darkness. If anyone can make the 3D detractors eat their hats it's a man who's already eaten his shoe!


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