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The Wild Blue Yonder

Most of Werner Herzog’s lead characters could plausibly tell you ‘where I come from is the wild blue yonder’, but this one (played by Brad Dourif) means it literally. As on-screen narrator of this ‘science fiction fantasy’, Dourif offers a rueful, embittered and often very funny account of his species’ journey, a century or so back, from their dying planet in the Andromeda system to Earth, where their grand plans for the establishment of a new civilisation foundered. To his outrage, vented against a backdrop of dust roads and ruined trailer parks, humans began to make their own way to the stars, even aiming for the frozen wonders of his abandoned home planet…

Wild-eyed, straggly-haired and taking it all very personally, Dourif’s turn recalls the to-camera addresses of Timothy Treadwell, posthumous star of Herzog’s ‘Grizzly Man’. As in that film, the director makes substantial use here of found footage, illustrating the fantastical narrative with recontextualised archive material, some cheekily subverted but much of it – notably extended takes of space-station astronauts and antarctic scuba divers in their weirdly beautiful weightless environments – exploited for its sublime qualities, accentuated by a soundtrack of chanting and cello. A scientific context is offered by interviews with researchers expounding modes of intergalactic travel, but the real pleasures are in the organic beauty of deep spaces and the ambiguous position of the humans suspended in them.

Release details

Release date: Friday June 15 2007
Duration: 77 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Werner Herzog
Screenwriter: Werner Herzog
Cast: Brad Dourif
Donald Williams
Ellen Baker
Franklin Chang-Diaz
Shannon Lucid
Michael McCulley
Roger Diehl
Ted Sweetser
Martin Lo
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