Fata Morgana

Herzog journeys to the Sahara to film mirages, goes home with some wonderously trippy footage, and has charming film critic Lotte Eisner narrate the Popol Vuh creation myth over the top. One of Herzog’s earliest features, Fata Morgana begins with a audacious zoned-out opening, and hits transcendent straight off before getting even stranger as its chimerical imaginary civilization passes from Golden Age to Decline. As well, the film crew shoots like tourists to a different planet where the presence of life is largely manifest through detritus and death: a car turns endlessly in circles, and a bearded man in welding goggles flourishes a monitor lizard at the camera. The onscreen subjects of Herzog and frequent collaborator Jorg-Schmidt Reitwein (who lensed 17 of Herzog’s films) are frequently enhanced by the mythic, mirrored properties of the heat haze, and an eclectic soundtrack that switches from Handel organ music to Leonard Cohen, and onto a weird local drum/piano duo. An absolutely stunning Herzog head film!

Dir. Werner Herzog, 1971, DigiBeta, 79 min.

Watch an excerpt from “Fata Morgana”!