The Catholic imagination of Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog’s new film, Encounters at the End of the World, is out now on DVD.
I was struck by a scene in which scientists prepare to dive beneath Antarctic ice. They stand solemnly as layer after layer of insulated material is placed over their bodies.
Herzog comments: “They prepare for the dive in almost total silence… They remind me of priests preparing for Mass.”
As they dive into the icy blue waters, he adds: “Many of them speak of diving here as ‘going down into the cathedral’.”
Herzog is a Catholic but, despite an intensely religious period as a child, it is not clear whether he considers himself a believer today.
And yet he retains an incredible appreciation for the sacred, whether in the beauty of the natural world, in the eccentric characters who populate the film or in the soaring music of the Russian Orthodox choir that accompanies the underwater scenes.