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Film Studies: “Invincible” by Werner Herzog Essay


Werner Herzog is one of the filmmakers that rejected the standard techniques of verite in cinema. Instead, Herzog is devoted to exploring the truth, reality, and its limits. This film director’s works are filled with altered realities and stretched time and space boundaries.

Reality and truth are abstract notions for Herzog. They exist in tight connection with the viewer. Just like in the story he told in his “On the Absolute, the Sublime, and Ecstatic Truth” lecture. In that story, he witnessed himself; the people of one Peruvian village had no notion of the ocean that existed on the other side of the Andes.

Their doubt was so strong that they had to send two representatives to collect salty water from the ocean and bring it back to the village as proof. Herzog explores the subjective perception of truth, which significantly alters people’s reality. For example, in the reality of the whole Peruvian village, the Pacific Ocean did not exist for a long time.

Anti-verite techniques employed by Werner Herzog in his films are designed to reflect the constant presence of the viewer, who is the filmmaker. This way the audience never gets to forget about the camera and the film. The whole work looks as if observed by someone. This is required to create the feeling of being involuntarily dragged into the course of the events in the audience.

Werner Herzog’s film called “Invincible” was released in 2001. The plot of this film is carefully organized around the concept of truth. From the very first scene, one of the main characters admits that his perception of truth and reality was altered when the White Warrior turned out to be real.

Within the first ten minutes of the film, a character that calls himself Truth appears demonstrating supernatural powers and taking over the important artifact. Even the meaning of eternity starts to be questioned in the dialogues of the characters when one of them implies that there is more than one eternity.

The effect of presence in “Invincible” is achieved through the movement of the camera. Many scenes are shot as if they are observed by the filmmaker secretly. The space between the camera and the characters contains obstacles such as fire, walls, glass, gates, and fences. The camera is often located behind one of the characters, shooting from above the shoulder, increasing the feeling of secret observation.

To create more disconnection between the perception and the reality, the filmmaker combines concepts that are not perceived as matching in normal life, for example, the two twin women dressed as geishas singing an indie-sounding song in duet. In the scene where the main anti-hero hypnotizes a security guard, his face is viewed through a blurred lens, so the viewer is put on the side of the victim.

Sound effect employed in the film also present anti-verite techniques when in some scenes, the voices of the characters are distorted, as if the filmmaker is overhearing them.

The film’s plot is the exploration of truth and the alteration of reality through the ways of its perception. The main protagonists of the film are the outsiders, and the whole course of events develops in the most common locations but features very uncommon actions and happenings.

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IvyPanda. (2020, March 22). Film Studies: “Invincible” by Werner Herzog. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/film-studies-invincible-by-werner-herzog/

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"Film Studies: “Invincible” by Werner Herzog." IvyPanda, 22 Mar. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/film-studies-invincible-by-werner-herzog/.

1. IvyPanda. "Film Studies: “Invincible” by Werner Herzog." March 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/film-studies-invincible-by-werner-herzog/.


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IvyPanda. "Film Studies: “Invincible” by Werner Herzog." March 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/film-studies-invincible-by-werner-herzog/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Film Studies: “Invincible” by Werner Herzog." March 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/film-studies-invincible-by-werner-herzog/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Film Studies: “Invincible” by Werner Herzog'. 22 March.

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