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Of Walking in Ice by Werner Herzog

Of Walking in Ice (1978)

by Werner Herzog

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254371,186 (3.7)6
In the winter of 1974, filmmaker Werner Herzog made a three week solo journey from Munich to Paris on foot. He believed it was the only way his close friend, film historian Lotte Eisner, would survive a horrible sickness that had overtaken her.
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I'm a big fan of Herzog's documentaries - I've seen all of them. This is another affair however. A pilgrimage of sorts, these writings were meant as a personal diary, not to be published. As a result it is highly idiosyncratic. It might click with some readers, but it didn't really work for me. It's always a tough read when an author doesn't focus.

The main problem with his 70-page booklet is the fact that there is no story arc or character development. Instead of story, there's sequence. Of Walking In Ice is a never ending series of impressionistic descriptions of things that caught Herzog's eye or mind during a journey on foot of 3 weeks from Munich to Paris. There're instances of poetry & meditation here and there, but not enough for my liking. There's lots of wisdom in Herzog's documentaries, but there's hardly any wisdom to be found here. Overall it feels disjointed and random. Herzog jumps from thing to thing very fast, often using just one sentence to describe something or someone, before describing something else that's unrelated - except maybe spatially. There's also a few hints of the surreal and the absurd, but again, not enough to deliver a coherent reading experience.

The ending is great though, so I'm glad I read it. Maybe this is better enjoyed in the original German for its possible poetic qualities - not sure.

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  bormgans | Aug 31, 2019 |
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