I’m a bit ashamed of myself for missing all of the details out there about Werner Herzog’s next documentary, since I enjoyed his 3D Cave doc so much. Fortunately a title change has finally brought it to my attention, and now I know that Gazing Into The Abyss: A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life will be Herzog’s look at some of the darkest human beings alive, as they sit on death row waiting to die having long been condemned and shoved out of society’s view (not that I’m implying that’s a bad thing- the last thing we need is TLC’s reality-TV take on the death row lifestyle)
I can’t imagine a more Herzogian title than what has replaced the original Death Row moniker for the film, but I guess he has to fit his poetic flourishes in where he can, as apparently this doc will feature less of his dulcet vocal ponderings and more of a focus on the subjects themselves. I can only imagine the restrain Herzog had to show in the editing process if that’s the case, as in his documentaries he tends to get bored with the answers of his interview subjects and often narrate over them with commentary, or his version of what they’re saying. It sounds as if he’s bringing a more subtle touch to this film, which focuses on several inmates, including:
“…two men convicted of triple murder, another who killed his girlfriend and her two mentally retarded sons, and a woman — one of 10 on Texas’ death row — charged with abducting a newborn baby and killing the child’s mother.”
Even Herzog’s incredible ability to mix wry humor, melodrama, and legitimate philosophical insight would be tough to apply to such a miserable batch of human beings. Herzog will also be leaving his politics at the door, and focusing on getting honest thoughts from the inmates.
The other good news is that the film has been picked up by ZDF Enterprises, who I hope will facilitate a decent release platform. ‘Zog’s aforementioned cave doc has been a big hit on the festival and independent circuit, so there should hopefully be some enthusiasm behind the director’s latest piece. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for an opportunity to see it.
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Note: There’s been a lot of viral hype surrounding Sam Jackson’s reading of the sarcastic kid’s book Go The Fuck To Sleep. Sam’s great, but even he can’t touch the greatness of Herzog’s reading.