After a full month of folks obsessing over Martin Scorsese declaring that Marvel movies aren’t “cinema”, filmmaker and agent of chaos Werner Herzog has decided to shift the “cinema” conversation elsewhere. Herzog has a part in the new Disney+ Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian. And even though everyone agrees that The Mandalorian is part of the TV landscape, Herzog just went ahead and referred to it as “cinema.”
We all love Werner Herzog. He’s a delightfully bleak man who makes powerful, uncompromising movies that can often be quiet soul-crushing, and he also happens to love watching wrestling. He’s everything you want him to be, and more. When Herzog isn’t directing documentaries and features that make you ponder existential questions he occasionally pops-up as an actor in unlikely places. He was the villain in Jack Reacher. He had a funny cameo as a man selling a haunted house so he could move closer to Disney World in Parks and Recreation. And currently, you can catch him in The Mandalorian as the mysterious figure The Client.
Herzog has said in the past that he hasn’t actually seen a Star Wars movie. But he has seen The Mandalorian, and he had very positive things to say about it during a recent Q&A. “I enjoyed every single moment of it,” Herzog said. “It’s beyond what we are seeing on the screen. It’s cinema back at its best.”
Referring to The Mandalorian as “cinema” will no doubt cause the denizens of Film Twitter to launch into all sorts of endless discussions. However, it’s worth noting that Herzog seems to be specifically referring to the way The Mandalorian was filmed. Specifically, the tech being employed to create the show’s sci-fi-fantasy landscapes.
“On the big fantasy films, actors were acting almost like robots in front of green screens, you didn’t see the world that you were inhabiting,” he said. “Here the actors see the entire universe in which they are operating and the camera does the same.”
The Mandalorian is shooting in something called “The Volume.” Mandalorian co-star Giancarlo Esposito previously offered some insight into the tech:
“Technically, this show has a new technology [that’s] never really [been] refined as much as it is right now. We’re in a place called The Volume, where we do most of our acting, where set pieces are brought in, where we can control the physical atmosphere of what is projected on the walls and control how gravity is; you get a feeling that gravity is being played with.”
And at the center of it all is Werner Herzog, sitting there saying dialogue like, “We can only give you a tracking fob.” If that isn’t cinema, then I don’t know what is.
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