Gravity and Grace (1) ¦ Wild Blue Yonder ¦ Living Between Two Oceans

Last night I went with my good friend and doctor of film Gareth Higgins to see Werner Herzog’s latest film ‘The Wild Blue Yonder’.

It’s a deeply comic, deeply environmental parable about space travel, aliens, shopping malls, complex math and hyperspace. And quite wonderful for it.

Speaking to Gareth afterwards, I mentioned that the path of the film reminded me very much of the wonderful children’s book ‘Penguin Dreams’ in which Chongo Chingi flies into the air, and goes so high through space that he pops out back through the surface of his pool. Herzog uses the same trick in this movie: footage from a Space Shuttle mission is cut with mathematicians describing the theory of ‘chaotic travel’ to other galaxies… the ‘astronauts’ are then seen diving into this new world as the footage switches to incredible shots of divers exploring waters beneath an ice cap.

The metaphor is, I think, a beautiful one. As humans we live at the interface between two oceans: the seas below, and the ‘ocean of the air’ above. The tallest human construction is only a few hundred metres tall. Relative to the size of the planet, even Everest is only a minor imperfection; scaled down, Earth is smoother than a billiard ball.

We are, in many ways, but a minor irritant on the surface of the planet. And it will scratch us off with no thought unless we learn to live in peace. The dream of zooming off to another planet is satirized by Herzog very well here. It ain’t going to happen. If it could have, aliens would have taken our fine earth by now. They tried. But no one came to shop for their trinkets.

It’s a great film with some incredible footage and wonderful music, and reminded me very much of another environmental meditation, Baraka. What is particularly striking are the disorientating shots of zero-gravity living, and the parallels between floating in space, and floating under the ocean. But more of that in the next post.

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One response to “Gravity and Grace (1) ¦ Wild Blue Yonder ¦ Living Between Two Oceans”

  1. cor nijhuis

    i like to use your picture for a party called spacetraveling aliens i want to use it in a flyer is it possible?