Les Blank

Documentary maker whose subjects are often music, food, and Werner Herzog.

Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980) -- An explanation of this 22 minute documentary is more interesting than the documentary itself.  Herzog became friends with Errol Morris, who had left many non-film projects incomplete and who was complaining of money troubles for finishing his first movie Gates of Heaven.  Herzog told Morris that if he actually finished the movie, then he would eat his shoe.  Gates of Heaven was eventually finished, Herzog loved it, and he did indeed cook and eat his shoe.  Les Blank was there to capture the eating, as well as some talk about moviemaking and food. Probably only interesting to fans of Herzog, Morris, or Les Blank.  The movie is available on the Criterion edition of Les Blank's Burden of Dreams DVD. B

Burden of Dreams (1982) -- If you don't feel like sitting through the two and a half hour Herzog movie Fitzcarraldo, this "making of" documentary is basically the same story.  In Fitzcarraldo, the title character -- in order to bring opera to the Amazon -- has to drag a huge steamboat over a mountain, endangering natives in the process.  In Burden of Dreams, Les Blank shows Herzog himself -- in order to make a movie -- dragging a huge steamboat over a mountain, endangering natives in the process.  Herzog was a little more safe than Fitzcarraldo (Blank strategically doesn't show the additional precautions Herzog took, and allows for many of his words to be heard out of context), but just as obsessed over a somewhat frivolous dream.  But this is what makes it (the movie and the dream itself) all the more great.  This is more than just a making of, and it's more or less on par with Hearts of Darkness, the making of Apocalypse Now. B

Copyright (c) Jun 2005 - Sep 2005 by Rusty Likes Movies