Land of Silence and Darkness

One of Herzog’s most deeply felt and compassionate documentaries, Land of Silence and Darkness profiles the extraordinary Fini Straubinger, who, after becoming deaf and blind as an adolescent, spent thirty bedridden years in near-isolation. Upon learning hand-to-hand communication, Straubinger found herself awakened, charged with the purpose of sharing this gift. Herzog follows his loquacious subject as she interacts with other deaf-blind pupils, revealing both profound loneliness and true intimacy; one exquisite sequence lingers on expressions of joy and anxiety as the 56-year-old educator and her friends take their first airplane ride, as another reveals disappointment when Straubinger is unable to break through to a withdrawn patient. Though Herzog surprisingly shot only three hours of footage during the making of the film, Land of Silence and Darkness explores its subject masterfully and methodically, culminating in a poignant final shot which Herzog himself called “absolutely unforgettable, a human drama played out in two and a half minutes.”

Dir. Werner Herzog, 1971, DigiBeta, 85 min.

Watch an excerpt from “Land of Silence and Darkness”!