Friday, April 2, 2010

Walking to Werner (2006)

Linas Phillips


In winter of 1974, German film director Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo, Grizzly Man) walked from Munich to Paris to see his dying friend, film critic Lotte Eisner, hoping that by making the journey on foot he would somehow force her to stay alive. In summer 2005, hoping simply to meet the man who had inspired him to make movies, actor/filmmaker Linas Phillips made his own pilgrimage, walking 1,200 miles from Seattle to Herzog’s Los Angeles home. Braving freeway traffic, weather, the California Highway Patrol and his own self-doubt, Linas fulfills a dream that parallels the filmic dreams accomplished by his hero. But as one marginal roadside character after another shares a story with him– redemptive, tragic, funny – they begin to steal focus from Linas’ obsession with Herzog. There is Scorpio Johnnie Angel, who began walking thirteen years ago in Tallahassee, Florida, when his wife and daughters were killed in a convenience store hold-up. Eli, a nursing student, walked from Los Angeles to the Oregon Coast, intending to kill himself but finding a new start instead. Brian, an itinerant chainsaw carver in the Redwoods, tells the story of how he murdered his girlfriend’s brother eleven years ago. Punctuated by Herzog’s voiceovers, these stories and Linas’ own spiritual battles make Walking to Werner as much a testament to human vulnerability and redemption as a chronicle of the 1,200-mile quest to meet the legendary director.


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