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40 years of American Cinematheque film programming….and counting. Dive into the AC Vault to discover past Q&As and clips from our vast and newly digitized archives, old calendars and programs, new podcasts, conversations and much more.
Since it began screening films to the public in 1985, the American Cinematheque has provided diverse film programming and immersive in-person discussions and events with thousands of filmmakers and luminaries, presenting new and repertory cinema to Los Angeles.
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Los Feliz 3 | Introduction by Werner Herzog. Los Angeles Premieres of New Restorations!
Book signing with Werner Herzog for his new novel The Twilight World at Skylight Books next door, prior to the screening at 3:00pm. To pre-order your book for this screening, click here.
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Home / Now Showing / FATA MORGANA / LESSONS OF DARKNESS
FATA MORGANA, 1971, AGFA, 79 min, Germany, Dir: Werner Herzog.
The term that’s this film’s title is a reference to mirages, and is an apt name for this storyless, hallucinatory work shot in the deserts of North Africa. It’s a rhythmic, musical succession of images and short scenes. One of the images is a pianist and drummer who play tiredly, surrounded by endless tracts of desert. This is an image that has been adapted and re-used in countless music videos and is just one example of this film’s far-reaching influence. The narration, in English, comes from a Guatemalan creation myth, and the accompanying music ranges from Couperin to Cash, with significant contributions by Leonard Cohen. FATA MORGANA is one of the early features by the renowned director Werner Herzog, and as was the case with many of Herzog’s films, he paid a high price in physical pain to shoot this one; he was arrested and tortured by an African government in the mistaken belief that he was a mercenary soldier.
LESSONS OF DARKNESS, 1992, AGFA, 54 min, Germany, Dir: Werner Herzog.
Herzog’s gripping documentary shows the disaster of the Kuwaitian oil fields in flames. In contrast to most docs — especially ones tackling the destruction of the planet — there are no comments and few interviews. The hell itself is presented to the viewer in such beautiful sights and sweeping music that one becomes almost entranced by it, and nearly forgets that the burning horizon is the possible harbinger of an apocalypse…
The great filmmaker Werner Herzog, in his first novel, tells the incredible story of Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier who defended a small island in the Philippines for twenty-nine years after the end of World War II
In 1997, Werner Herzog was in Tokyo to direct an opera. His hosts asked him, Whom would you like to meet? He replied instantly: Hiroo Onoda. Onoda was a former solider famous for having quixotically defended an island in the Philippines for decades after World War II, unaware the fighting was over. Herzog and Onoda developed an instant rapport and would meet many times, talking for hours and together unraveling the story of Onoda’s long war.
At the end of 1944, on Lubang Island in the Philippines, with Japanese troops about to withdraw, Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda was given orders by his superior officer: Hold the island until the Imperial army’s return. You are to defend its territory by guerrilla tactics, at all costs. . . . There is only one rule. You are forbidden to die by your own hand. In the event of your capture by the enemy, you are to give them all the misleading information you can. So began Onoda’s long campaign, during which he became fluent in the hidden language of the jungle. Soon weeks turned into months, months into years, and years into decades—until eventually time itself seemed to melt away. All the while Onoda continued to fight his fictitious war, at once surreal and tragic, at first with other soldiers, and then, finally, alone, a character in a novel of his own making.
In The Twilight World, Herzog immortalizes and imagines Onoda’s years of absurd yet epic struggle in an inimitable, hypnotic style—part documentary, part poem, and part dream—that will be instantly recognizable to fans of his films. The result is a novel completely unto itself, a sort of modern-day Robinson Crusoe tale: a glowing, dancing meditation on the purpose and meaning we give our lives.
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