Combustible Celluloid
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With: Brad Dourif, Capt. Donald Williams, Dr. Ellen Baker, Franklin Chang-Diaz, Shannon Lucid, Michael McCulley, Roger Diehl, Ted Sweetser, Martin Lo
Written by: Werner Herzog
Directed by: Werner Herzog
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 81
Date: 09/05/2005

The Wild Blue Yonder (2006)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Alien Frustration

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Werner Herzog followed up his acclaimed documentary trio (Grizzly Man, The White Diamond and Wheel of Time) with this bizarre, beautiful and slightly tedious amalgamation. Brad Dourif (from The Lord of the Rings and "Deadwood," as well as the voice of Chucky) stars as an extra-terrestrial who speaks to the camera and tells about his peoples' attempts to settle the earth. His dialogue, comprised of facts as well as fiction, turns into voiceover, describing two selections of real-life footage. The first was shot aboard a NASA shuttle, showing the astronauts going about their day in total weightlessness. The rest of the footage was taken underwater, beneath an Arctic ice shelf, which is meant to represent Dourif's home planet. A beautiful score by Ernst Reijseger ties the package together. Though the film clocks in at only 81 minutes, the rhythms of the balletic footage and Dourif's funny, feverish rants don't always mesh. As always, Herzog's film expresses his boundless curiosity about the way man fits in (or doesn't fit in) with nature. There are never any answers, but this time his questions aren't quite so clear. The Wild Blue Yonder screened at the 2006 San Francisco International Film Festival, and now opens for three days at the Red Vic Movie House, February 4-6, 2007.

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