CinemaDope: Getting the Message

A new documentary with unusual roots

Comments (22)
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Kimberley French photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Werner Herzog has always been a great director, and one who has, from the start, marched to his own very personal drumbeat. While it was his earlier art house features that made his name—films like Fitzcarraldo, Stroszek, and Aguirre: Wrath of God—it has been the director’s forays into documentary filmmaking that have proved to be his most enduring legacy.

Since 2005, when his film Grizzly Man proved a surprise hit—as much a hit as a documentary about the grisly death of an amateur bear enthusiast can be in this world—Herzog has had a string of successes in the genre. First there was Encounters at the End of the World, a look at a South Pole research community; later he gave us Cave of Forgotten Dreams, which explored a French cave system containing our earliest human art; later still came Into the Abyss, which featured conversations with death row inmates (a project carried on by Herzog’s TV series On Death Row).

But if Herzog’s subjects seem to carry him all over the earth, his films are united by their focus on something local to each of us: at their heart, each of his films is about our own human experience.

Rarely has that been on such raw display as it is in his latest film, the unusual short documentary From One Second to the Next. One of the things that make it so unusual is that you won’t see it in theaters. The 35-minute short, in which the director interviews people whose lives have been upended by terrible violence, was commissioned by AT&T and distributed to more than 40,000 high schools; it can also be found online, where I hope it will find many viewers. It’s about texting while driving.

Before you dismiss it as another lame PSA, remember that it’s Herzog; none of the usual platitudes are present here. Instead, you come face to face with the people involved on both sides of these life-changing events, telling their terrible stories in plainspoken English. In print, the raw details—an Amish family of three killed while Chandler Gerber texted “I love you,” a woman with a tube in her head to relieve pressure on her brain, or a rancher whose truck became a deadly missile when the car in front of him drifted across the center line and sideswiped an oncoming car—don’t convey the strength of emotion that Herzog captures on both sides of these accidents. These are awful wounds literal and figurative, and some of them will never close, and we are doing these things to ourselves every day.

This is a film for all of us, not just the teenagers so often singled out as the worst offenders. As the 70-year old Herzog noted in an interview with the Associated Press, “There’s a completely new culture out there. I’m not a participant of texting and driving—or texting at all—but I see there’s something going on in civilization which is coming with great vehemence at us.” Let’s hope that his film slows things down. For now, you can find it on YouTube.

Also this week: When Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 came out back in 2009, it was a revelation—a debut feature that was self-assured, visually compelling, and a critical and box office success that went on to score four Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture. Blomkamp had pulled off a pretty neat trick: he made a movie about apartheid in Johannesburg, but he also made one heck of a sci-fi movie. In his world, the oppressed class of South Africa was an alien race stranded on our planet and herded into the slum that gave his film its title.

He tries to do it again with Elysium, more of a mainstream action blockbuster whose message about class and equality is buried a bit deeper this time around. (“I want to blow things up as much as I want to make films that are about serious topics,” Blomkamp says in the release notes.) In it, Matt Damon stars as Max, a member of the lower class, who lives on the surface of our 22nd century Earth, toiling away amid crime and poverty while the upper classes live on Elysium, a pristine space station orbiting above.

When Max is exposed to lethal levels of radiation during an accident on Earth, his only hope for survival—which becomes the hope of an unknowing populace—is to reach Elysium and demand equal treatment. Whether he gets what he needs, and whether Blomkamp can match the success he achieved with District 9, remains to be seen, but it should be fun to watch them try.•

Jack Brown can be reached at

Comments (22)
Post a Comment

One long-term primary participant, Mike*, passed away unfortunately in a car incident a season ago. Several associates distributed experiences of methods Mike's lifestyle motivated them. Health

Posted by JHFHGVJH on 7.8.14 at 1:28

So if you have proved helpful on a development website, personal job, etc., in which copper was thieved from, let me know. Please e-mail me at I look ahead to listening to from you. Stephen Williams wine

Posted by hjhjkh on 8.6.14 at 23:39

We put up shows as often as we could, wherever we could, and as cheaply as we could. We were lucky to break even. We once used all the profits from a play to fund a weeklong camping trip. Dave Morin

Posted by JHFHGVJH on 8.8.14 at 23:53

I really appreciate the kind of topics post here. Thanks for sharing us a great information that is actually helpful. subscribe here

Posted by JHFHGVJH on 8.9.14 at 5:52

I pay a quick visit day-to-day some web sites and sites to read posts, except this webpage gives quality based posts.

Posted by Jacky69 on 8.9.14 at 7:05

He serves as an example to others to take a risk and test new technologies. If the technology works, and in this case it seems that it does, it’s a win for everyone. providing reliable info

Posted by hjhjkh on 8.12.14 at 2:20

He serves as an example to others to take a risk and test new technologies. If the technology works, and in this case it seems that it does, it’s a win for everyone. Susan McGalla

Posted by JHFHGVJH on 8.13.14 at 0:12

Falla was diagnosed with kidney failure in June 2012. She remembers lying on a hospital bed in Armenia, Colombia, as her blood flowed from one arm to a white machine—about the size of a mini refrigerator—filtering waste before it returned from the machine to the other arm. news

Posted by JHFHGVJH on 8.21.14 at 6:33

I agree with your view.your article is excellent. I have been examinating out some of your stories and i can state pretty nice stuff. I look onward your next editorial. Web Design New York

Posted by JHFHGVJH on 8.25.14 at 4:11

I pay a fast check out day-to-day some web websites and websites to study content, except this web site gives quality centered posts. you can check here

Posted by williama on 8.31.14 at 22:46

"There are so many places where we have seen incredible progress," says Ruth-Heffelbower. "And often, relationships become so strong the groups continue to meet, even when it seems the need is not as great anymore." bitcoin hosting

Posted by JHFHGVJH on 8.31.14 at 23:06

One neat thing about being the first company to purchase the trucks is that Robichaud is pretty much involved in any design changes that may be made to the vehicle. old school new body

Posted by hjhjkh on 9.1.14 at 3:31

Although most people want to look good, many don't want to spend time building muscle. You, however, have already taken the first step by decidedly seeking out this information. Continue reading in order to get some great tips for quickly building muscle. truth about abs pdf

Posted by casusbubble on 9.6.14 at 3:46

Robichaud to test-drive the truck that he felt would be a perfect fit for the service industry because of the short routes service technicians drive daily. Detox Tea UK

Posted by JHFHGVJH on 9.6.14 at 6:30

Now that you have read the tips here, you are better able to pick out furniture and get it to your house. Furniture can change the look of any room, so hopefully you use the information here to really make smart choices about what to choose and what to buy for your home. Good luck! start potty training program reviews

Posted by casusbubble on 9.6.14 at 6:53

You might have heard that muscle building is hard work that takes time. While that's true, it's more important to learn how to build muscles than to exercise every day. If you want to build muscles efficiently, you need to learn what to do and what not to do. Read on for some guidance about how to build muscles. somanabolic muscle maximizer

Posted by casusbubble on 9.7.14 at 9:37

Are you a parent or a student of college? Are you wondering how to prepare? Do you feel inadequate? Well, there are a number of things that can help you. This article has a number of suggestions to help you. Keep reading to learn more about how to prep for college. unlock her legs review

Posted by casusbubble on 9.8.14 at 4:45

Thanks for the amazing content on your blog I am very interested in this article and you have really helped me. I have just told a few of my friends about this on FaceBook and they love your content just as much as I do. find here

Posted by JHFHGVJH on 9.16.14 at 2:06

When the current term of office expires on June 29, trio caretaker councils composed of a mayor, the district administrator, a town clerk or chief executive, will run local authorities. Smart Price Warehouse

Posted by JHFHGVJH on 9.23.14 at 4:15

It seems that many company and personal promotion communications are going on electronically nowadays. It is often much easier to write a quick email or send a brief text than to contact someone on the phone. important link

Posted by hjhjkh on 9.25.14 at 4:57

In situations where the digital routine panel has failed on the difficult drive generate, then you have to have the exact same routine panel on hand in order to recover the necessary routine elements for alternative. see post

Posted by williama on 9.26.14 at 0:25

Boulder Electric Vehicle and a Precision customer, invented the electric service truck, and convinced Robichaud to test-drive the truck that he felt would be a perfect fit for the service industry because of the short routes service technicians drive daily. venus factor

Posted by hjhjkh on 10.2.14 at 0:15



New User/Guest?

Find it Here:
search type:
search in:

« Previous   |   Next »
Print Email RSS feed

Go Fandango!
Cinemadope: Cutting Humor
Doctors at war and at play
Cinemadope: The Home Front
Building a nest, keeping an egg
Cinemadope: Exit the Theater
Movies in other places
Cinemadope: Mix and Match
Unlikely alliances
Cinemadope: Local Flavor
A film shot in Shelburne returns.
Cinemadope: Snack, Attack
Restaurant reviews with a side of snark
Cinemadope: French Twist
Living in Michel Gondry’s imagination
Cinemadope: Unholy Ghosts
Paying for the sins of others