Friday, August 30, 2013

Collective Hypnosis

Heart of Glass (1976) - Herzog
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What is crazier: a film about a whole town going mad or a filmmaker hypnotizing all the actors to get a certain mood out of it? Herzog did the latter with one of his least seen masterpieces, Heart of Glass. In the heart of the majestic Barbarian mountains, a town is thrown to chaos because their glassmaker died, taking the secret of the much prized 'ruby glass' to the grave. Everyone, from the town's master, owner of the glass factory and his son to workers and farmers, is somehow completely dependent of this one industry. After many failures to duplicate ruby glass everyone sheepishly, subtly go mad collectively, just as Hias the oracle (Joseph Bierbichler)'s predicted.
(Non) actors who are hypnotized look and act like they are lobotomized zombies, moving slowly and uttering their fed lines in monotone. Their glazed eyes are either rolled back or staring nowhere, as if their souls have been sucked out. Herzog's mission therefore, is accomplished!

Accompanied by Caspar von Fredrich inspired visuals of nature and men and Popul Vuh's soundtrack, Heart of Glass is even more hypnotic than usual Herzog in many different ways. His commentary on industrialization, Fascism, losing soul in the modern world are painted with his usual bold style and he does it like no other. Its tacked on operatic ending at sea -- concerning the futility of man, at first feels like it comes out of nowhere, doesn't seem too far fetched when you digest the film as a whole. It's a truly majestic film and the one that needs to be seen on the big screen.

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