Bells From the Deep (Herzog, 1995)

Bells From the Deep (Werner Herzog, 1995)

These hour-long documentaries littered throughout Herzog’s filmography are often such a treat. With Bells From the Deep, Herzog documents different people in Russia and their eccentric faiths, religions, and superstitions. He doesn’t comment on anyone, letting viewers form their own opinions on the people at hand. Some of the folks are very obviously wacky (a sorcerer/exorcist), others seem normal, but reveal themselves are being a little off the more they talk (a man who thinks he’s the second coming of Jesus), and then there are those who are genuinely living their faith (a man who has found a life making music by ringing tower bells). Herzog weaves these stories and others together, creating interesting contrasts and comparisons.

As usual with a Herzog film, the music is poetically and hypnotically beautiful, whether it be the local throat singers or the various pieces of music dancing in the background. Unfortunately, the visual experience did not live up to the aural one. There are some great images featured, but the camera is mostly static and much of the film focuses on the talking heads. Also, I’m not really sure why Herzog insists on interpreting all the monologues into English instead of using subtitles. It’s very distracting. All in all, though, another great one from one of the best.  8.25/10

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8 Responses to “Bells From the Deep (Herzog, 1995)”

  1. Hehe, those crazy Russians and their Messiah complexes! I guess that’s mostly the classic authors, though. Well, maybe just Nikolai Gogol…

  2. Gogol — what a weird man…. Love his work though….

    Have you seen Herzog’s documentary, How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck?

  3. 40 or so minutes — inspired by his interaction with the auctioneers in his film Stroszek…

  4. laurie mcnamee Says:

    Hello! Anyone recommend any sources where I can buy/ watch this film? I need it desperately for my MA dissertation!
    Thanks! Laurie

    • chrisfilm Says:

      Hmm, I don’t know. I found it on a members only site unfortunately. Maybe an inter-library VHS search? I don’t think this ever hit DVD. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  5. What I love most about Herzog is that he does not let the facts get in the way of the truth. The idea that people believe there is a city in the lake is completely Herzogs. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 2nd Coming people are too.

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