Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Unprecedented Defence of the Fortress Deutschkreuz (1967)


The Unprecedented Defence of the Fortress Deutschkreuz is a short fourteen minute film written, directed, and produced by Bavaria’s finest filmmaker Werner Herzog. It was his third film, following on from his debut short Herakles (1962) and the mysterious and totally obscure Game in the Sand (1964). The latter is a film that Herzog has consistently refused to distribute, and will almost certainly remain hidden, owning to subject matter that still leaves the director disturbed. Fortress Deutschkreuz was Herzog’s first attempt at fiction, and as such it can be seen as something of a dress rehearsal for his first feature film Signs of Life which would follow in 1968. Both films explore the psychology of warfare, as the protagonists do battle with imaginary enemies. Signs of Life benefited tremendously from its beautiful Crete locations, brought vividly to monochrome life by the cinematography of Thomas Mauch, and the brilliantly unhinged performance of Peter Brogle as the brittle fantasist Stroszek. Fortress Deutschkreuz by contrast is still a little uneven and crude in places and the quality of the transfer I viewed does not aid its cause. However it does set up a satirical attitude to warfare that Herzog would develop and refine throughout his career.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Blaxploitation Poster Gallery [Part 3]

Mean Johnny Barrows (Fred Williamson, 1976)

Mean Mother (Al Adamson, Leon Klimovksy, 1974)

The Monkey Hustle (Arthur Marks, 1976)

Mr Mean (Fred Williamson, 1977)

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Blaxploitation Poster Gallery [Part 2]

Cool Breeze (Barry Pollack, 1972)

Cotton Comes to Harlem (Ossie Davis, 1970)

Darktown Strutters (William Witney, 1975)

Death Dimension (Al Adamson, 1978)

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Blaxploitation Poster Gallery [Part 1]

Abby (William Girdler, 1974)

Aaron Loves Angela (Gordon Parks Jr, 1975)

Adios Amigo (Fred Williamson, 1976)

 Amazing Grace (Stan Lathan, 1974)

Friday, 8 February 2013

No One Will Play With Me (1976)


This unusual and obscure little film from Werner Herzog emerged in between his two feature films The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974) and Heart of Glass (1976). The former is quite rightly lauded as one of Herzog’s finest achievements, and introduced the world to the bizarre talents of the non-professional actor Bruno S. The latter was a challenging fable of prophecy and apocalypse, a highly stylised and visionary film in which the director famously hypnotised the majority of the cast members. It seems odd that Herzog would return to the short film at this stage in his career. His previous short film was made seven years before and was entitled Precautions Against Fanatics (1969), and in that time he had achieved his international breakthrough with feature films like Aguirre: Wrath of God (1972), the aforementioned Kaspar Hauser, and critically acclaimed documentaries such as Land of Silence and Darkness (1971) and The Great Ecstasy of the Woodcarver Steiner (1974), both of which were made for West German television, but achieved wider distribution due to the directors new found fame.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Herakles (1962)


This short nine minute film would be totally insignificant were it not for the fact that it marked the debut to filmmaking of Werner Herzog. The barmy Bavarian was a mere twenty years old when he wrote, directed, produced, and edited this somewhat amateurish effort. It is fair to say that Herakles was an exercise; an experiment on Herzog’s part to see if he could actually make a film. But even at this early stage Herzog’s decision to shoot on 35mm film shows that he had ambitions that far exceeded the humble nature of this production. But Herakles was an instructive lesson, especially for a young man who largely existed in a world without cinematic reference points, and whose influences were extremely limited. In this film Herzog explores the art of editing, and although Herakles is little more than an editorial exercise, it does contain a few images that will be of interest to Herzog enthusiasts. 

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