Land of Silence and Darkness, clip 2
Having watched Herzog’s Land of Silence and Darkness recently (just a couple of months ago), I guess I could describe what I like about Herzog’s technique and stuff, but what I’m really obsessed with is the feeling of being able to read his thoughts when I watch his films, or the feeling that I am inhabiting his mind, looking through his odd monocular vision.
Land of Silence and Darkness is a documentary about people who are blind and deaf, and it describes a kind of spectrum based on the characters’ amount of contact with the world.
Fini Straubinger, for instance, clasps people to her, laughs heartily, and animatedly signs onto people’s palms.
When she meets another blind-deaf woman, she writes “I am your sister in darkness” onto her hand.
She hosts a party that culminates in her friends tentatively feeling their way through a cactus garden.
On the other hand, this clip from the film shows a man who’s been neglected his whole life and is living in a kind of feral, inchoate isolation. When someone gives him a radio for the first time, his face acquires a kind of focus. In the scene where he clasps the radio to his heart, I felt my own chest vibrating, too. It’s so powerful, this scene.
He’s an eerie film subject to watch, since he has no idea that he’s participating in a film.
You know, speech is fine. I have a love-hate relationship with speech, the spoken word.
But I’ve often wondered why all of us don’t use hand signs and sign language on a regular basis, too.
It seems like it would be so lovely to trace alphabets onto another person’s palm.
Or tell a story on someone’s thigh. Or write a sonnet on the sole of someone’s foot.