Close Up

29 September 2017: Heart of Glass


Heart of Glass
Werner Herzog
1976 | 94 min | Colour | Digital

“Although at the time I knew very little about hypnosis and it had never crossed my mind to use it in a film, I started to think about the story I had before me, this tale of collective madness, of people aware of an approaching catastrophe yet who do nothing … Maybe the title Heart of Glass makes more sense in this light; for me, it refers to a sensitive and fragile inner state, one that has a kind of transparent glacial quality.” – Werner Herzog

“A Bavarian village in the 18th Century is famous for its beautiful ruby glass. When the master foreman of the glassworks factory dies without revealing the secret process through which he created the renowned glass, the citizens of the town slowly descend into madness as the factory owner desperately attempts to recreate the formula. This entrancing Gothic tale is most famous for the incredible story of its production. In order to obtain the enigmatic, dreamlike performances he desired from his cast, Herzog had his actors hypnotised before each scene was shot. The effect on screen is both disconcerting and deeply enthralling. It adds to the film's atmosphere of troubling inevitability – the story of a town that cannot break away from its own disastrous path. Heart of Glass is Herzog at his most stylish: a grand Gothic mystery, full of the earthy richness of its German New Wave contemporaries but seemingly existing totally out of time.” – QAGOMA

Part of our season on Werner Herzog