Werner Herzog Enters The Leni Riefenstahl Hall Of Shame Twice, and Little Dieter Will Certainly Not Be Rescued By Hollywood Dawn
As much as it would be easy to lay the blame on Hollywood for Werner Herzog’s decline into The Leni Riefenstahl Hall Of Shame, there were a number of signs that the director didn’t just stumble into this art-meets-propaganda abyss with his latest Rescue Dawn, which has mysteriously been pending release for over a year and has only just now surfaced with a full-blown 4th of July ad campaign blitz to nauseate any viewer who has any socially conscious brain cells still intact.
Herzog, who has been living on and off in the US for decades, first ventured into his perfectly Hollywood-esque historical oblivion when he decided to omit the big picture atrocities in Indochina to zoom in on the bizarre and tragic life of one Dieter Dengler. The tragedy here being that, still after his death (2001) neither him nor his film biographer gathered any clues that the horrors he – AND JUST A FEW OTHER MILLION VIETNAMESE, CAMBODIAN and LAOS civilians + soldiers who are not mentioned, much less named in the films – experienced were the consequence of savage imperialists waving the red, white and blue in the name of freedom.
Little Dieter Learns To Fly was Herzog’s first version documentary coming out in 1997. The story of this German emigrant so obsessed with flying he would dedicate himself to become a Naval pilot for a foreign government’s vile raping of distant lands. Shot down and captured by the Viet Cong he endured unfathomable tortures before escaping, and was subsequently honored as a war hero. And through some incredible maintenance of disconnectedness and/or denial, never grew hip to the deception + dementia of the patriotic machinations that dropped him into the heart of darkness.
Now most readers here will probably know the many prolific explorations in cinema by this often brutally honest, obsessed, and uniquely challenging director, and one might expect that a such a messy existence in Little Dieter examined by the “poet of doom” ( as the Egyptian Theater’s tribute/ retrospective in 2002 was titled ) would be gorged with a dark irony.
As soon as we heard about this remake in the works we wanted to write about our experience of this infuriatingly flawed (original) film, but remained somewhat open as to what interpretations were possible.
But Herzog was quoted in the current LA Weekly’s cover story on Christian Bale ( playing the main role ), saying Dengler’s story is ” everything that I like about American character…courage, optimism, self-reliance, loyalty. It’s what, in essence, is America.” And things just made themselves all-too-clear !
The XL Terrestrials have begun with the much-needed analysis and deconstruction of this truly odd filmmaker and these two wildly offensive films.
Now we already knew that he was a determined masochist and an adamantly apolitical artist, but dear reader, we had no idea how lost both artisticly and politically one could become!
And if being brutally tortured in the jungle as a pawn of empire during one of the last century’s dirtiest wars is what YOU can “Love about America”, we suggest immediate psychiatric consultation and turning off the psychic + psy-op sewage from the Hollywood pipelines before all hell begins to back up into your own dreams !
to be cont.
Note: we had hoped to continue w/ an analysis of Riefenstahl-isms (pictured below) , information wars, and the art of flayed cinema in the grip of state agendas. But this still remains an unfinished article.