My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?

Directed By: Werner Herzog


A weird mess of a film, Herzog has taken a procedural crime drama and turned it on its head.

Minutes into the film we find out that a murder has occurred. We know who did it, where they are hiding. The rest of the film is spent either in surreal flashback to ancient Greek theatrical presentations, or the exploration of Flamingo kitch. Couple this with moments of stillness (the shot to the right is an example of one of these “freeze frames”, with the actors simply stopping in place without specific motivation) and you get the idea of this strange, surreal flick.

Herzog was quite adamant that while David Lynch is associated as a producer, he played no role in the film. Instead, his intention was to write, shoot, and cut a film in a very short amount of time, with a very small budget, using a coterie of his famous friends as actors. Unlike most recent Lynch films, there was a lightness and humour to the entire proceeding. Unfortunately, there was also the blindly incoherent moments, gratuitous side trips into surrealism for little to no narrative reason. Herzog dismissed all claims of this incoherence, meaning that, unfortunately, he’s blind to his own weaknesses with this film.

That said, it’s still, at its heart, and enjoyable picture, quirky and crazy enough to be captivating in its own lurching way. After all, who else but Herzog would find compelling beauty in a basketball left in a tree by a highway. For that, I guess, we should continue be eternally grateful.

Grade: B-


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