Werner Herzog has a touch of megalomania, and was not ENTIRELY sympathetic to Timothy Treadwell in Grizzly Man–but I love his notion of “ecstatic truth.”

Bells from the Deep is his 1993 “documentary” about Russian mysticism.

Here’s his description of one scene: “I wanted to get shots of pilgrims crawling around on the ice trying to catch a glimpse of the lost city, but as there were no pilgrims around I hired two drunks from the next town and put them on the ice. One of them has his face right on the ice and looks like he is in very deep meditation. The accountant’s truth: he was completely drunk and fell asleep, and we had to wake him at the end of the take.”

A former drunk myself, I have always believed the blackout to be a crude form of mystical union. I have come to prefer being (mostly) awake. But being awake is not for the faint of heart. In fact, a drunk, trying to imitate a pilgrim searching for the lost city of Kitezh, being shot by Werner Herzog, to create a film I am going to watch, alone,  from a darkened Hollywood apartment, embodies almost more ecstatic truth than I can handle… 


2 Replies to “BELLS FROM THE DEEP”

  1. Anonymous says: Reply

    My apologies if you've already seen this, Heather. It's part of a BBC interview a few years ago during which Werner Herzog was shot. His equanimity is astonishing: "Is is not a significant bullet."

  2. Werner Herzog: " The poet must not avert his eyes at what is around (him). Even the ugly things, even the decadent things…" Explaining to his interviewer why he was not surprised by being shot.
    Thanks for posting the clip, truly surreal.


Discover more from HEATHER KING

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading