Watching films exhausts me. It feels like a chore scrolling through Netflix until my eyes bleed out. Seen it, scroll, seen it, scroll, seen it, repeat.
I haven’t got close to viewing every mainstream hit of the past 100 years, I doubt I have even seen 10 %. But I have seen a lot. We’re talking directors filmography’s almost completed, Oscar winners smashed, and certainly I have drudged through every cult hit ever made. Though I have reached a point where I am bored of all this.
To explore something different I have tapped into Werner Herzog and Jean-Luc Godard. Two filmmakers who I haven’t seen an inch from, two vastly inspirational craftsman who I know nothing about. Thus the challenge is to go through their body of work, to open myself up to a whole new world of cinema. I started with Herzog’s ‘Encounters at the End of the World’ and Godard’s ‘Breathless’.
Encounters at the End of the World (2007)
Briefly this film has passed me, though mostly I feel it was familiar because it reminded me of BBC Two nature documentary. Of course it is far much more than this and engrossed me from the opening seconds. The topic fascinates me, predominantly due to the exclusion of the location and mystery of Antarctica. I think Herzog feels the same way, being certainly a film in his twilight years, diving into something that he himself is intrigued by.
As expected it is a morose look at this part of the world, with a looming fog of mortality hanging over it. Herzog’s personality of voice pull you through the visuals and stories the camera tells, which engaged me to no end. It has become clear to me that I could listen to this man talk about anything and be encapsulated by it, which I’m sure has been said endless times about the man.
A particular thread of the discovery that genuinely filled me with great emotion was the story of a penguin who wanders away from the herd. No-one knows why he does this or where he goes, he simply walks off into the abyss. This maverick tale I assume mirrors Herzog’s philosophies and he has a deep affection for this creature. A touching moment would be underselling it, just like any other descriptions of this film. It is a desperate must watch in my opinion and has opened me up for a love of Werner Herzog.
This is the sort of film that really wins me over. I have often said that Romantic Comedies are my favourite type of movie and I’m pretty sure Godard’s filmography will show me how my love for them began from his influence.
You get a complex character, you put him next to an equally complex character and let them talk about ideas for 15 minutes while the camera fixates on tiny details of a setting. Then the film is sold to me. Every line is so wonderfully pieced together that I found myself pausing and rewinding if I missed a slight moment. The bedroom scene utterly flawed me and I could screenshot every second of every frame. From this, you could forget the arcs of the character or how deep the plot goes. You allow Godard to take your eyes along the picture, penetrating idea after idea on you.
There’s an argument it is well ahead of it’s time, though I think it created the time. Godard invented French New Wave for me here, and effectively every film that has lengthy dialogue in it for the next 1000 years.
I am unsure on what films to watch next.