THE WILD BLUE YONDER

Directed by Werner Herzog. 2005.


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Looking like a cross between Klaus Kinski and Christopher Lloyd, a disheveled man (Brad Dourif) stands in a junkyard filled with broken buildings peering into the camera. He tells us that he is an alien from the Andromeda system who came to Earth many years ago because his world had become an inhospitable ice field. Now disheartened because his attempts at building a complex with government buildings and shopping malls on Earth has failed, he tells us that “aliens suck”, strange language indeed for an Andromedan. In an ironic twist, mankind undertakes a space mission to his home planet to search for a new home for Earthlings after a dangerous microbe is discovered in a captured Roswell UFO. 

Made originally for television, Werner Herzog’s science fiction fantasy, The Wild Blue Yonder feels like an in-joke that the viewer is not in on. The film mixes NASA footage from a space mission in 1989, cinematography from an exploration under the frozen waters of the Arctic, and mock interviews with scientists and mathematicians Roger Diehl, Ted Sweetser, and Martin Lo that often make them seem like objects of laughter. Separated into ten titled chapters, the film consists of the alien ranting at the camera, astronauts doing chores, eating and brushing their teeth, and explorers swimming under an Andromedan ocean looking for intelligent jellyfish.  

All of it is set to an other worldly soundtrack performed by Ernst Reijseger, singer Mola Sylla, and a five-voiced Sardinian choir that weaves a tapestry of radiance but the film’s moments of brilliance are mixed with long stretches of flatness. Ultimately, for all its spiritual pretensions, Herzog offers only a rationalist’s point of view, emphasizing man’s isolation rather than his connectedness and missing in the phrase of Deepak Chopra “the stillness at the heart of creation, where the universe correlates all events”. 

GRADE: C

Howard Schumann
 
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