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In his tireless crusade to expand the vocabulary of cinema, Werner Herzog turned Heart of Glass into a bold and challenging experiment. By placing all but one of his actors under hypnosis, Herzog achieved his desired effect, eliciting performances that seem oddly detached and trancelike, perfectly appropriate to a story about 19th-century Bavarian villagers who have lost their collective vision, cast adrift and descending into madness. They've lost the life-sustaining secret to the magical ruby-red glass that was once made in the local glassworks, and their predicament cannot be solved by the mystic (Josef Bierbichler, the only actor not hypnotized) who appears with premonitions of the fate of all humankind. All of this is mere pretense for Herzog's loftier (and not altogether successful) ambition: to present haunting, mysterious images that seem directly drawn from our collective subconscious. In his visionary defiance of conventional narrative, Herzog crafted a timeless, mesmerizing allegory, and one of the most eerily beautiful films ever made.

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ANB11566 Heart Of Glass DVD (1976/Werner Herzog) $59.99