Friday, January 27, 2006

WCBE 90.5 FM: "Grizzly Man," "Fitzcarraldo," "Kaspar Hauser - Everyman For Himself and God Against All," "Aguirre: The Wrath of God"

WCBE #234-Final
"It's Movie Time" with John DeSando & Clay Lowe
Director's Special: Selected Films of Werner Herzog -
"Grizzly Man," "Fitzcarraldo," "Kaspar Hauser - Everyman For Himself and God Against All," “Aguirre: The Wrath of God”
Air Time: 3:01 and 8:01 pm, Friday, January 27, 2006
Streaming live on the web and on demand at


Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man" has a grizzly ending . . .

Fitzcarraldo" is crazy about Caruso. . .

In "Kaspar Hauser" every man is for himself and god is against all . . .

"Aguirre" is crazy about his daughter . . .


"It's Movie Time" in mid-Ohio, with John DeSando and Clay Lowe, featuring today a special salute to the films of Werner Herzog . . .


Hi, I'm John DeSando

Clay ("Grizzly Man")
And I'm Clay Lowe.

John, it seems to me that in his documentary, Grizzly Man, German director Werner Herzog favors the thoughts of Thomas Hobbes over those of nature loving Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  Hobbes, of course, was the 17th century philosopher who described man's life in the natural world as being "nasty, mean, and brutish."  And brutish wildness is what narrator Herzog says he saw in the eyes of the grizzly bear that eventually devoured Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend.

No apologist for Treadwell's eccentric love of the grizzlies, Herzog lets Treadwell's impassioned ravings on camera stand alone.  Never bothering, however, to connect Treadwell's ideas about wildness with those similar notions held by America's native peoples.  And never does Herzog dignify Treadwell's love for the Alaskan grizzly by pointing out that naturalist Dian Fossey had the same kind of love for her African gorillas.

Too bad, Treadwell's passions deserve more respect.

John ("Fitzcarraldo")
I never respected self-destructive idiots either. Building an opera house in the South American rain forest is the goal of another Werner Herzog crazed visionary. The titular Fitzcarraldo needs to introduce a steam paddle wheeler to the jungle by dragging one over the mountain to reach a navigable river. After that, he can make enough money to fund Enrico Caruso to sing there.

Klaus Kinski is again the alter ego of director Herzog, and Herzog's reputation as just another of his own megalomaniacs is certified in Les Blank's Burden of Dreams, a doc about the making of the film, showing Herzog as looney as his hero by actually dragging the boat over the mountain, something the historical Irishman on whom the hero is based never attempted.

Seeing and hearing a phonograph playing Caruso as the steamboat loses control in rapids is every bit as powerful as the monkeys overcoming Aguirre's raft, monkeys Herzog stole from a museum as they were crated on a dock.

Clay ("Kaspar Hauser")
Fitzcarraldo and Timothy Treadwell were indeed men who lived out, their fixated passions.  But even Herzog had his own compelling interests in things strange and unusual.  For instance his fascination with the story of Kaspar Hauser - an 18th century wild man from Nuremberg, who became the darling of Germany's high society.  Much as John Merrick, the elephant man, became the darling of London's 19th century's elite.

Herzog, however, in his film version of Kaspar Hauser, depicted Kaspar as a gentle child of nature who was eventually brutalized by the civilized world.  Quite the opposite of Francois Truffaut's movie about the Wild Child who had to learn, for his own good, to become tame so he could more peaceably live in the civilized world of discipline and order.

Too bad Herzog didn't make "Wild Child" and Truffaut "Kaspar Hauser."  It would have made more sense.
ohn ("Aguirre")
Clay: Werner Herzog's 1972 Aguirre: The Wrath of God depicts the savage and futile quest in Peru of a band of Spanish conquistadors for the city of gold, El Dorado. The theme of man's doomed thirst for power is embodied in Klaus Kinski's Don Lope de Aguirre, a mutineer who takes his soldiers deeper into the heart of darkness as he becomes more deeply crazed.

For instance, he plans to make his daughter his queen. The allegorical  implication is there about leaders whose personal visions are at odds with rational behavior. The film is full of memorable images such as the opening extreme long shot of the soldiers marching down an Andean mountain carrying a cannon and a Madonna.
Herzog and Kinski fought all the way, with Kinski threatening to leave and Herzog holding a gun to his head.

I'm outta here.

John, only you could turn are little academic evaluation of the films of
Werner Herzog into a cliff hanger.  Such a show man.

I'm outta here too.

See you at the movies, folks.


"It's Movie Time" with John DeSando and Clay Lowe is written and produced by John DeSando and Clay Lowe for WCBE 90.5 FM in Columbus.  Your announcer was Richelle Antzcak.


"It's Movie Time" copyright by John DeSando and Clay Lowe, 2006