Land des Schweigens und der Dunkelheit (1971)
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- Land of Silence and Darkness
- 85 min.
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An early but typically extraordinary documentary from film genius Werner Herzog following the deaf and blind Fini Straubinger as she travels around Germany meeting and communicating with similarly afflicted people. A more exceptional, tenacious and compassionate woman it would be hard to imagine; and similarly hard to conceive of the terrifying, crushing loneliness and inevitable depression of being cut off almost entirely from the world in this way (aside from an ingenious method of alphabetic sign language tapped out on the palm of the hand and the fingers). When the film shifts to those born both deaf and blind and almost entirely incapable of understanding or communicating with the world it is almost unbearably sad - but simultaneously fascinating. Touching a tree, or feeling the water of a shower are miracles we inevitably fail to appreciate in our everyday experience. For a jolt of the extremity of other lives and a reminder of what human contact and communication really means this is a tough watch but unreservedly recommended.
Makes you reassess everything you know about communication.
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In 5 official lists
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This movie ranks #77 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Documentaries of All Time
This movie ranks #301 in Amos Vogel's Film as a Subversive Art
This movie ranks #408 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films: 1001-2000
This movie ranks #522 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
This movie ranks #690 in Doubling the Canon