Watching Werner Herzog’s ‘Encounters at the End of the World‘ last weekend, and hearing him refer scathingly to ‘tree-huggers’ and ‘whale-huggers’, reminded me of his comments about the cruelty and disharmony of nature in ‘The Burden Of Dreams’, Les Blank’s documentary about the making of Fitzcarraldo.
[I could listen to that awesome accent all day..]
Of course we are challenging nature itself, and it hits back, it just hits back that’s all, and that’s grandiose about it, and we have to accept that it is much stronger than we are.
Kinski always says it’s full of erotic elements, I don’t see it so much erotic, I see it more full of obscenity, it’s just… and nature here is violent and base – I wouldn’t see anything erotic[al] here, I would see fornication and asphixiation and choking and fighting for survival and growing and just rotting away.
Of course there is a lot of misery but it is the same misery that is all around us. The trees here are in misery and the birds are in misery and I don’t think they sing they just screech in pain.
It’s an unfinished country, it’s still pre-historical. The only thing that is lacking is the dinosaurs here. It’s like a curse weighing on an entire landscape, and whoever goes too deep into this has his share of that curse – so we are cursed with what we are doing here. It’s a land that God, if he exists, has created in anger. It’s the only land where creation is unfinished [yet].
Taking a close look at what’s around us, there is some sort of a harmony; it is the harmony of overwhelming and collective murder . And we in comparison to the articulate vileness and baseness and obscenity of all this jungle, we in comparison to that enormous articulation, we only sound and look like badly pronounced and half-finished sentences out of a stupid suburban novel, a cheap novel.
And… we have to become humble in front of this overwhelming misery and overwhelming fornication, overwhelming growth and overwhelming lack of order. Even the stars up here in the sky look like a mess. There is no harmony in the universe, we have to get aquainted with this idea; there is no real harmony as we have concieved it.
But when I say this I say this full of all admiration for the jungle, it is not that I hate it, I love it; I love it very much – but I love it against my better judgement.
From another segment of ‘The Burden Of Dreams’:
It’s not only my dreams, my belief is that all these dreams are yours as well, and the only distinction between me and you is that I can articulate them. And that is what poetry or painting or literature or filmmaking is all about; it’s as simple as that. And I make films because I have not learned anything else, and I know I can do it to a certain degree, and it is my duty because this might be the inner chronicle of what we are, and we have to articulate ourselves otherwise we would be cows in the field.
A good article by Jessica Hopper here: ‘In Which Nature Is Lars Von Trier’s Satanic Church‘, where she puts Herzog’s comments into the context of what she sees as Lars Von Trier’s misogynist ‘Antichrist‘ [I haven’t seen it – and not sure I really want to], and argues that here “nature = evil, nature = woman’s nature, women = naturally evil”.