A film by the infamous Werner Herzog, Land of Silence and Darkness has been chosen by Mark Boulos as an example of a documentary which makes a strong philosophical statement, something which his work heavily relates to. Herzog has said that of all his films, this is the one which he “want(s) to be available to audiences the most." It strips away practically all audio-visual adornments in deference to its subject matter: the middle-aged Fini Straubinger, a sweet-natured German woman who went both deaf and blind in her teen years following a terrible fall and blow to her head.
Rather than attempt to evoke the sensation of what Straubinger might be feeling, Herzog instead chooses to structure his aesthetically spare and verité footage in a spiralling descent into greater and greater adversity. Not for Straubinger herself, who proves remarkably capable (she is able to speak with clear diction) and mentally equipped to function normally with the aid of her translator, but rather the other deaf-blind people she visits out of philanthropy and her unshaken belief in the ability to reach even the most extremely afflicted souls.
Herzog on the film: “There is a great softness in Land of Silence and Darkness. People generally respond so positively to it because it is a film about solitude, about the terrifying difficulties of being understood by others, something we have to deal with every single day of our lives. In the film one finds the most radical and absolute human dignity, human suffering stripped bare. Land of Silence and Darkness is a film particularly close to my heart. If I had not have made it there would be a great gap in my existence.”
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