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How Much Wood Would A Woodchuck Chuck?

Germany, 1976 (MIFF 2001, Burden of Dreams – Werner Herzog)

Director: Werner Herzog

In one of his most well known documentaries Herzog contrasts the contestants in the 1976 Cattle Auctioning World Championships with the Amish community in which the event is held. The ironic connection here is the rampant capitalism of the auctioneers' trade when viewed alongside the simple, anti-materialism of the Amish. This being Werner Herzog though, things won't be so black and white .Foreshadowing the later Huie's Sermon, the director is fascinated with his observations of a new language emerging from the speed-yodeling that marks the auctioneers' efforts to outdo one another at the championship events.

Some of the competitors sound like a fired up Hitler played triple time, others have a curious barking style or seem to be speaking in tongues trying out for a Mel Brooks remake of The Exorcist. A slice of weird Americana observed with the sly humour only an outsider is capable of.

See also...

La Soufrière

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Gasherbrum: The Dark Glow of the Mountains

Before Reinhold Messner's name inspired a Ben Folds Five album title he was known principally as a fearless, and possibly reckless, mountaineer who had lost a brother and six toes in his endeavours ... More »

Huie’s Sermon

Werner Herzog claims to have had a divine vision as a child, which may partially explain his fascination with mysticism and preachers. Huie's Sermon was shot in the US while Herzog was preparing to ... More »

Bells From The Deep

Near the border between Russia and Mongolia, the nomadic Yulas tribe attempts to reach an altered state of consciousness by making strange, deep, frog-like croaks. Elderly people living by Lake ... More »

God’s Angry Man

A vivid account of Werner Herzog's meeting with Californian late-night television evangelist Dr Gene Scott. Scott fleeced fundamentalists to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year ... More »

Lessons of Darkness

First screened to rapt audiences at MIFF 1993, Lessons Of Darkness is Herzog's meditation on the apocalyptic aftermath of the Guff War. Tragedy and beauty are blended in aerial photography that ... More »

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