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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Yorker Films: Significant releases in the States

New Yorker Films first released Aguirre, The Wrath of God (1972). The German director Werner Herzog (He directed the "documentary" Grizzly Man, of recent fame.) was unknown to me.
I have shown this film several times over the years in both Special Themes In Film and Video Art and Survey of Film and Video Art, 1960 until Now.
The first time I watched this film-well- I did so unaware of what I was getting into.
A friend took me to the Red Vic in San Francisco for a screening. I was bewildered and immediately wanted more of that kind of cinematic space.
This film is of immense value as a work of art, and in recent cinematic history it stands as a masterpiece of strangeness and grandeur on a small budget, as well as immense irritation. It is the kind of irritation that can't quite be scratched away while watching it.

New Yorker Films distributed many films holding equal value.

I did book one film distributed by New Yorker Films by Werner Herzog: The Dark Glow of the Mountains (1984-5?). The Dog Sled Team screened it on the mountain campus in Croom Theatre several years ago.


1 comment:

  1. If I'm remembering things correctly, I first saw Aguirre when I was in High School, over the course of a summer program that was running at Cornell. They screened a lot of mind-expanding stuff in the campus cinema. I think I'd seen some Bunuel before then, but the Cornell theater exposed me to a whole range of things that lead me irrevocably down the path of cinephelia -- Cocteau's "Orphee" and "Blood of a Poet," Fellini's "Amarcord," Jarmusch's "Stranger Than Paradise," Kinugasa's "Page of Madness," and some Godard too ("Hail Mary," unfortunately -- it would be a while before I actually caught up with his good stuff). A number of images from those films have been caught in my brain since then, fairly undimmed by time -- and several are attached to Aguirre, among them a disembodied head counting off a final number, a Peruvian native holding a Bible to his ear to listen to it's voice, and Aguirre standing on his raft, surrounded by his shrunken kingdom of monkeys. Of course the simple fact of Klaus Kinski's face is an event in and of itself, a craggy and implacable objective correlative to the Peruvian mountains.