[ENTERTAINMENT]The law of Herzog's jungle: Push it to the extreme

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[ENTERTAINMENT]The law of Herzog's jungle: Push it to the extreme

The German movie director Werner Herzog loves going to extremes. He once ate his shoe to keep a promise, and once nearly shot a lead actor, Klaus Kinski, when they were filming in the Brazilian jungle after Kinski said he could not go on.

A conspicuous figure in the New German Cinema movement, Herzog has made films that only he can, like the one in the heart of the Amazon that took months of shooting. "If you are a scientist, you put a material in an extremely experimental situation to understand its inner structure," he once said to explain his philosophy of filmmaking. "Likewise, a human being put in an extreme situation lets us know who we really are, enlightening us on our very quintessence." A retrospective on Herzog is going on at the Seoul Art Cinema, located in the basement of the Artsonje Center in central Seoul. The show follows a similar one at the recent Bucheon Festival.

Born in 1942, Herzog hated school and wound up running off to the Sudan at age 18, leaving everything behind. After wandering around the world, he returned to Munich in 1962 and made a short film, "Hercules." His 1967 film, "Sign of Life," won the Silver Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Herzog's films reflect the director's own characteristics: not knowing how to give up, and dealing with extremes. Of the 10 works in the retrospective -- nine by Herzog and a documentary on Herzog, "Burden of Dreams," by his close friend Les Blank, an American underground movie director -- "Fitzcarraldo" (1982) may be the most representative of Herzog's style. The movie is about a man with a dream to build an opera house in the Amazon jungle and invite the famous singer Enrico Caruso to perform. To achieve the dream, Fitzcarraldo must endure a series of extreme situations in the jungle, and becomes insanely obsessive. "Burden of Dreams" is about the making of "Fitzcarraldo."

Also at the retrospective is "Even Dwarfs Started Small" (1970), in which Herzog compares people with dwarfs who are unaware of their shortcomings, and instead find fault with dwarfs less powerful than they are.

The festival runs until Thursday. To get there, take subway line No. 3 and get off at Anguk Station. Take exit No. 1 and walk about 150 meters to the Jeongdok Library. For more information call 02-720-9782, or visit the Web site www.kotheque.org.

by Chun Su-jin

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