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Werner Herzog Pays Tribute To Kindred Spirit In ‘Nomad’

New documentary looks to late travel writer

Photo credit: Music Box Films

Filmmaker Werner Herzog pays tribute to a kindred soul in his new documentary "Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin."

Companion viewing

"Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe" (1980)

"Fitzcarraldo" (1982)

'Incident at Loch Ness" (2004)

Werner Herzog has a new documentary called "Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin." It's another fine entry in Herzog’s growing collection of non-fiction work.

Herzog won international acclaim early in his career for films such as "Aguirre, Wrath of God" and "Stroszek" back in the 1970s as part of the New German Cinema movement. But more recently he has been focusing on non-fiction work. Yet there is a thread that ties much of his work together. Whether working in documentary or narrative film, Herzog's subjects and themes often focus on obsessed individuals, dreamers and new frontiers. And all that reflects the filmmaker himself, which leads to his latest documentary on Bruce Chatwin.

Listen to this story by Beth Accomando.

Chatwin was an author with a taste for nomadic life. He had an engaging literary style. In the book "In Patagonia," he recounts a childhood memory about a piece of Brontosaurus that was in his family. In the film, we hear him reading an excerpt that includes, "The brontosaurus, I learned, is an animal that drowned in the flood being too big for Noah’s ark."

Of course, the furry, leathery skin turns out to be from another prehistoric creature and not a brontosaurus. But his personal account of some personal history captivates us from the opening moments of Herzog's film.

Herzog pays homage to a man he views as a kindred spirit "who would craft mythical tales into voyages of the mind." Something Herzog excels at in his films. The film is gorgeously shot and wonderfully executed. It also boasts delightful Herzog moments like this description the director shares with us in his voiceover narration, "He built a phenomenally ugly house for himself."

That wasn’t about Chatwin’s house but it’s such a Herzog turn of phrase and delivery. And we do seek out those special Herzog moments, whether it's a simple turn of phrase in his own film or seeing him in someone else's movie eating his shoe or going mad in the jungle.

"Nomad" is amazing, inspiring, and just beautiful to look at and listen to. Sitting home in quarantine, it's refreshing to enjoy the nomadic and curious mins of these two great men. I’m sure this film would be even better on a big screen.

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Photo of Beth Accomando

Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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