Ferocious Reality by Eric Ames
Documentary according to Werner Herzog (Visible Evidence)

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Over the course of his career Werner Herzog, known for such visionary masterpieces as Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972) and The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974), has directed almost sixty films, roughly half of which are documentaries. And yet, in a statement delivered during a public appearance in 1999, the filmmaker declared: “There are deeper strata of truth in cinema, and there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization.” Ferocious Reality is the first book to ask how this conviction, so hostile to the traditional tenets of documentary, can inform the work of one of the world’s most provocative documentarians.

Herzog, whose Cave of Forgotten Dreams was perhaps the most celebrated documentary of 2010, may be the most influential filmmaker missing from major studies and histories of documentary. Examining such notable films as Lessons of Darkness (1992) and Grizzly Man (2005), Eric Ames shows how Herzog dismisses documentary as a mode of filmmaking in order to creatively intervene and participate in it. In close, contextualized analysis of more than twenty-five films spanning Herzog’s career, Ames makes a case for exploring documentary films in terms of performance and explains what it means to do so. Thus his book expands the field of cinema studies even as it offers an invaluable new perspective on a little studied but integral part of Werner Herzog’s extraordinary oeuvre.


About Eric Ames

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Eric Ames is associate professor of German and a member of the cinema studies faculty at the University of Washington. He is coeditor of Germany's Colonial Pasts and author of Carl Hagenbeck's Empire of Entertainments.
Published October 17, 2012 by Univ Of Minnesota Press. 336 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Ferocious Reality

Arts Fuse

In his book Ferocious Reality, Eric Ames offers an insightful, well organized, and readable study of Werner Herzog’s documentary work that explores the director’s earliest films as well as his most recent.

Dec 16 2012 | Read Full Review of Ferocious Reality: Documentar...