Land of Silence and Darkness
(Land der stille und finsternis)
With Fini Straubinger, Heinrich Fleischmann, Vladimir Kokol.
West Germany, 1970-71, 16mm, color, 85 min.
German with English subtitles.
Werner Herzog’s third feature film is a life-affirming portrait of Fini Straubinger, a middle-aged blind-and-deaf woman who decides, against her family’s wishes, to work with other similarly challenged individuals. Herzog—as visionary in his documentary pursuits as he is in his fiction—accompanies Fini and her colleagues on journeys of discovery (a day at the zoo, an airplane flight) as he transmits to the audience the spirit of their uniquely intense existence.
Austrian avant-garde filmmaker Kubelka was commissioned by a commercial German travel company to shoot a travelogue about an African safari. Instead he produced this dazzling filmic essay, which distills hours of footage of the African veldt and villages into a visually arresting yet scathing commentary on the enduring postures of colonialism.