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The Wild Blue Yonder
The Wild Blue Yonder
Actors: Werner Herzog, Brad Dourif
Genres: Indie & Art House, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Cult Movies
NR     2006     1hr 20min

From legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, Fitzcarraldo, Nosferatu) comes an inspired vision: as humans search for a new planet to colonize, aliens attempt to settle on the nearly-uninhabitable Earth. Oscar-no...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Werner Herzog, Brad Dourif
Genres: Indie & Art House, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Cult Movies
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Subversive Cinema
Studio: Subversive Cinema
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 11/14/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 20min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 13
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Herzog's latest bizarre and wonderful film is simultaneously
Nathan Andersen | Florida | 09/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Wild Blue Yonder is Werner Herzog's latest film, following the popular and acclaimed Grizzly Man and the equally compelling White Diamond. It is an excellent addition to a vast body of work that encompasses experimental (Fata Morgana), documentary (Little Dieter Needs to Fly) and narrative fictional works (Aguirre: The Wrath of God, and Fitzcarraldo). Wild Blue Yonder is neither strictly a fictional feature nor a documentary, but a peculiar hybrid of both, that makes creative use of "found" NASA footage combined with the narration of Brad Dourif (Deadwood) to create a surreal and beautiful science fiction fantasy.

The film is a bizarre and wonderful beast, that playfully embraces a range of ambiguities (and inconsistencies) of time and place and concept. For this I expect it will be infuriating (or tedious) to some, but I found it fascinating and delightful and at the same time poignant. It is also one of Herzog's funniest films (while I've read festival reviews that suggest the humor in the film is unintentional it is exactly the kind of humor that pervades Herzog's work, and he is too clever a director not to be in on the joke). Aliens travel across eons of time to reach salvation on our Earth, while astronauts explore the cosmos only to find the abandoned planet the aliens left behind as their best hope. Mostly ignored upon their arrival by a culture too caught up in materialistic pursuits, the aliens mimic the ways of the natives, attempting to ensure the success of their colony by building, before all else, a mall (that, like many malls scattered throughout the United States, eventually fails because people don't come: things are cheaper at Wal-Mart). Later, in a brief summary of human history, the apparently last remaining alien describes the first great sin of mankind as the domestication of pigs, that forced them to settle down and eventually build strip malls. In the film the "Wild Blue Yonder" of Andromeda is simultaneously the here and now of this earth, deep in the seas of the Antarctic. What is said about the one could be equally said about the other. Herzog's film is both a celebration of the human desire to explore (and of the remarkable ingenuity displayed by the scientists and engineers who are the poetic visionaries of the space program) and a lamentation of our stupidity and our shameless absence of wonder. The music and sound throughout the film -- especially the remarkable singing of Sardinian vocalists -- is vibrant, both otherworldly or transcendent, and traditional, harking back to simpler times. The cinematography is gorgeously rich; even if this film had nothing else going for it, it could be appreciated as a cinematic poem of lovely images. At the same time what makes the film interesting is the fact that the images don't always fit easily with the narrative descriptions they seem intended to illustrate: a fact that highlights the peculiar status of this film as neither simply a fantasy nor a documentary, but a fantasy that, when juxtaposed with documentary images, serves to comment upon and urge reflection on the ideas that lead us to be fascinated with those images that are so revered by our culture (of early aviation, space flight, etc.). Brad Dourif is excellent as a narrator, channeling something of a peculiar mixture between Herzog's own deadpan description and the neurotically energetic exuberance of someone like Timothy Treadwell.

The film can be interpreted in a number of ways: for example, the "alien" might as well be just a disturbed but intelligent individual, whose "madness" consists of an inability to identify with the human pathologies he sees to be leading us to planetary self-destruction, and envisions an Earth without humans, in many ways more beautiful than Earth at present. At several points in response to human mistakes he repeats, "I could have told them ..." -- his remarks and the story as a whole serve to comment upon the absurdity of what has long been an implicit vision of the space program (the idea that when we have "wasted" this planet we can always go somewhere else, the final frontier ...). A literal interpretation of the alien is difficult, given that Herzog is deliberately loose with time in the film, and there can be little sense made of the ultimate chronology of the film (which depicts a narrator apparently in the present telling of things far past and in the distant future as if they were all in the past). In that respect, and as a work of experimental and cautionary science fiction, the film can perhaps be best compared to works like La Jetee by Chris Marker, and to Herzog's own Lessons of Darkness and Fata Morgana. In any case it is a stunning film, that deserves to be seen much more widely by those who are willing to set aside a few of their conventional expectations from the movies and be overwhelmed by the peculiar blend of humor and pathos that is at the heart of this delightful film.

Note: while this review is based on a screening of the film, the dvd is scheduled to be released in November (by RYKO, which recently put out a very fine version of David Lynch's Eraserhead, and which tends towards cult and independent films). Here is what they say on their website about the release:

Winner of Best Film: Critics Prize at the 2005 Venice Film festival , Werner Herzog's (Grizzly Man) new feature is an epic vision of our search for a new planet to colonize while aliens (narrated by Deadwood''s Brad Dourif) attempt to settle on our almost uninhabitable Earth. A revolutionary mixture of original NASA footage, amazing footage under the Antarctic ocean ( shot by musician Henry Kieser), interviews with cutting-edge scientists, all culminate into Herzog's personal plea to save our own planet, The Wild Blue Yonder has fans, critics and skeptics alike in furor. An absolutely unique cinematic experience in a limited edition DVD release with hours of special features.

- Limited edition includes full-length director's commentary, featurette, still gallery, bios and more!"
Scientifically Illiterate Vogon Poetry.
Rich_in_CO | Fort Collins, CO USA | 09/02/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Some would argue that this is "art" and should not be judged in the same way as conventional "entertainment" films are. That might be true to some extent, but I contend that it is really just a very poorly made, poorly acted, poorly narrated, poorly conceived failure.

I picked it up thinking, "Cool, a science fiction film by an avant-garde director with an environmentalist message. Right up my alley." What followed was a brief period of bafflement, followed by disbelief and outrage as I realized how horrible this movie is.

This is movie features extensive use of NASA footage (mostly inside scenes of the space shuttle and lectures/interviews) and some truly beautiful Antarctic undersea footage. Okay so far. It has a strange and beautiful soundtrack, also very much okay as far as I'm concerned.

But the story... Fearing contamination from an alien disease, NASA sends up an ad-hoc space shuttle mission which immediately determines (via badly repurposed SOHO and other solar observatory footage) that the entire Milky Way galaxy is inhospitable, so we'd better go to the edge of the Amdromeda Galaxy instead. In the space shuttle. Using completely bastardized Lagrange Point orbital mechanics (a cool lecture in its natural context) to magically transit the 3 or so million light years to Andromeda overnight. The astronauts then spend two days scuba diving in the liquid helium (-260 deg. C) planet they find there, and decide that this is (of course) the perfect place to put a new base. They then travel (forward) in time (not relativistically, but parallel-universtacularly) while being transmuted into pure light and reassembled back on a now-abandoned Earth, which shore looks purty without all those people. Roll credits.

All that might be forgiven if... um... uh.... No, all that is unforgivable. But it's made significantly worse by the flat performance turned in by the film's only actor, Brad Dourif. His is by far the weakest performance in the film.

If I were one of the scientists whose work was quoted in this movie, I would be so unhinged by the ordeal as to waste the rest of my days searching for ways to go back in time in a trans-galactic wormhole-surfing space shuttle to dip Werner Herzog in liquid helium and prevent this film from being completed. Sadly, the time for proactively dipping Werner Herzog in liquid helium is gone forever. But it is (hopefully) not too late for you to turn your back on this pretentious atrocity. Run, I beg of you. It's too late for me; save yourselves.

(An addendum: Don't believe the reviewers who imply that people who dislike this movie simply lack the sophistication to appreciate it for what it is. I enjoyed the original Russian "Solaris", which is certainly no popcorn movie. And one of my favorites of all time is "Koyaanisqatsi" - a film which consists entirely of plotless, soundless documentary footage with a score that prominently features toneless Hopi vocals. So I can appreciate the avant garde, and I still say this is the worst film I've ever seen. Honest. You're better off watching two hours of security camera footage from an empty underground parking garage.)"
Lost in Space the Herzog way
Wednesday | my fallout shelter | 11/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Astronauts lost in space, the secret Roswell object re-examined, an alien who tells us all about his home planet - the Wild Blue Yonder - where the atmosphere is composed of liquid helium and the sky frozen, is all part of my science-fiction fantasy." - Werner Herzog

This film is a piece of art. Let it go at that and don't expect the CGI version to come out in five years. It is meant to make you think about the bigger picture, ie, how Earthlings view the universe and where they fit. It tells a science fiction story more in the vein of "what if," so if you can keep an open mind, then you'll find yourself pondering the film even a few days after viewing it. I think it is best to see it on the big screen and with an audience in order to feel its comedy and enjoy the beauty of the NASA footage and the film's astounding score. If you see it at home, dedicate an entire 90 minutes to viewing this movie, in the dark, the windows closed, without real-world interruption.

Essentially, Herzog's a genius for projecting a science fiction fantasy story onto NASA's Galileo footage and space shuttle coverage, complete with astronauts in their daily routines, and also original footage beautifully filmed by avante garde musician Henry Kaiser for the "liquid helium" sequences.

The music is perfect and Herzog himself calls the film an oratorio.

If you love the beauty and darkness of the film Baraka and the satirical parallel's to real-world politics like in Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, then you'll get what is going on in The Wild Blue Yonder.

It's a limited edition DVD; 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen; Dolby Digital Stereo; commentary featuring Herzog, Dourif and Norm Hill; Q&A, behind the scenes featurette, still galleries, and bios.

Here is information for those who want the soundtrack:

Sounds for two films by Werner Herzog

Music by Ernst Reijseger

Werner Herzog was joined by Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger, Senegalese singer Mola Sylla and the Voches de Sardinna called Tenore e Cuncordu de Orosei. An initially unlikely assemblage became a powerful, unique and extraordinary work.

This album is the sound story REQUIEM FOR A DYING PLANET by Stefan Winter, inspired by Ernst Reijseger's works recorded for Werner Herzog.

A production of Winter & Winter

For further information - winterandwinter . com"
Please Folks...
charlieheston | Portland, Or United States | 02/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Wild Blue Yonder is an experimental film. It's a little bit fiction, a little bit mockumentary, a little bit theater, a little bit documentary, and a whole lot of Herzog. This film wasn't made to be a traditional Sci-Fi film, or easy, mindless viewing.

I saw it in a theater at a festival earlier last year and I was completely enthralled. Herzog creates a very grim and slooooow mood (like most of his filmography), consisting of real footage from underneath an arctic glacier, mathematicians blathering, and mesmerizing NASA footage. All the while, a crazed Brad Dourif weaves a fable of being an alien coming to Earth.

The music (much to the dismay of some negative viewers) is absolutely stunning, organic and trance inducing like most of Herzog's previous film's scores, similar to that Popol Vuh vibe.

If you want a clear narrative, an exciting story, characters, or if you are easily bored or unfamiliar with Herzog's obscure works or other experimental films - stay away, you'll hate it. Fans of 2001, Tarkovsky, Lessons of Darkness or just plain old art for art's sake - approach with caution, it's rewarding. Especially on a large TV screen."