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Heart of Glass (1976)

Cast: Clemens Scheitz, Clemens Scheitz, Sonja Skiba, more...
Director: Werner Herzog, Werner Herzog
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Anchor Bay
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Costume Drama/Period Piece, Germany, Experimental/Avant-Garde
Running Time: 94 min.
Languages: German
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

Synopsis
Heart of Glass (Herz aus Glas) is essentially a treatise by Werner Herzog on the power and importance of art. Director Herzog was known to put his actors through the wringer to get the results he wanted. In this film, Herzog decided that the best way to get his people to dance to the crack of his whip was to actually put them under hypnosis! The dazed, zombie-like performances certainly fit the subject matter. This is the story of an 18th-century Bavarian glassblower who by virtue of his delicate work virtually casts a spell over his neighbors. When the glassblower dies, the townsfolk discover that he failed to leave behind the secret for his special ruby glassware -- and will do literally anything to find the answer. The word usually used to describe Heart of Glass is "haunting"; some viewers have gone beyond haunted and into "possessed." Watch carefully and spot director Herzog in a bit as a glass carrier. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Oddly Intriguing by randomcha December 8, 2005 - 7:39 AM PST
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0 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Yes, Herzog hypnotized the actors before shooting each day. Ultimately this is one experiment that's more interesting to read about than to watch (and the bonus features on the disc are very helpful here). Though there are several moments of visual beauty; at times the film resembles a Breugel painting. The main problem is that the zombified characters render the film dramatically inert. But the glassblowing sequence IS fascinating, almost documentary-like. Perhaps it's true that Herzog's documentary films are generally more engaging than this fictional ones.

Hurdy-gurdy leiderhosen Bavaria by sdbiolaw March 1, 2005 - 10:18 AM PST
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3 out of 8 members found this review helpful
Like certain other Herzog films upon which I have unfortunately spent money, there are a few moments that are highly memorable, surrounded by great heaps of pretentious garbage. But if you've never heard authentic hurdy-gurdy performances, "Heart of Glass" is a must-see.

Moreover, I must correct the "blurb" which states that this is the tale of a glass-blower with the secret to the making of the "ruby glass". If it were, Herzog might have been able to move from this nihilistic exercise in corpse-dancing into something resembling an engaging storyline. Instead, the protagonist is a Nostradamus-like woodsman with no visible means of support who spouts a series of local and global prophecies that Herzog claims are based on authentic sources. The prophet also spends a great deal of time in silence with his back towards the audience, providing Herzog ample opportunity to burn hudreds of feet of color film on fog-shrouded landscapes, only some of which are partially relieved by annoying voice-overs that force the viewer to endure not only the prophecies, but also the prophet's inner monologue.

There are, however, some heavy-handed allegories about the failure of capitalism to provide a safety net in the face of technological change, etc. Such pandering does not excuse Herzog's orgy of self-indulgence here, which is exemplified by his extended use of a hypnotized actor who has been instructed to stare fixedly at a hand of cards throughout an interminable scene of corpse-dancing by Herzog's beloved authentic leiderhosen-clad Bavarians, all to the accompaniment of a vigorous hurdy-gurdy man.

Unsettling & Incomparable by Misshaped December 31, 2004 - 7:21 PM PST
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3 out of 4 members found this review helpful
Herzog's slow pacing sets the mood for this dreamlike film. The actors were actually put under hypnosis, so their performances are creepy and memorable. It's short (only 94 minutes), but the story carries you along into the dark fairy tale world of a pre-industrial 19th century Bavarian village. I don't think you'll find another film like it. Take your time with it and allow yourself to enter the world and its apocalypic vision without expectations.




GreenCine Member Rating
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(Average 6.88)
72 Votes
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