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Incident at Loch Ness [Import]
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Incident at Loch Ness chronicles the story of the making (an unmaking) of acclaimed director, Werner Herzog's film. Herzog's stated intent was "to explore the origin and the necessity of the monster" rather than to look for the creature itself. Shocking, controversial and strangely humorous, the film raises many questions about where reality ends and fiction begins.
Nothing is quite as it seems in Incident at Loch Ness, an entertaining pseudo-documentary comment on cinematic fakery. Conceived and directed by Hollywood screenwriter Zak Penn, this half-clever ruse begins with a master-stroke by casting German director Werner Herzog as himself, preparing to film a documentary about Scotland's mysterious Loch Ness monster. As this film-within-a-film is chronicled by a documentary crew led by renowned cinematographer John Bailey, "producer" Penn rises to apparently impossible heights of ineptitude, until it becomes obvious (indeed, it's the film's near-fatal flaw) that there is no "reality" here at all--just a very amusing pile-up of falsehoods. Penn's onto something good here, and Herzog is by far the film's greatest asset, maintaining a credible commitment to the ruse with a hilarious and fiercely believable performance. Still, the ideas at play are better than Penn's execution of them, so you'll have to play along, in Blair Witch fashion, even after the film's ploy becomes clear. Penn and Herzog provide a worthwhile commentary track, adding another layer of observation to Penn's multilayered con game. --Jeff Shannon
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Here's the setup: A camera crew is creating a documentary on noted filmaker Werner Herzog (Herzog, as himself). At the same time, Herzog is making a documentary on Loch Ness and the mythos surrounding it. Herzog is more interested in why people want to believe in a monster rather than the monster itself. His producer, Zack Penn (Penn, as himself) however has different ideas, and will resort to trickery in order to get the blockbuster film he envisions.
Penn hires a sexy sonar operator (Kitana Baker, as herself) with no sonar experience, and a strange cryptozologist (Michael Karnow) for comedic relief. He also demands that the engines on the boat be changed to quieter ones in order to get better sound coverage. Herzog, meanwhile, tries to make his film, as Penn tries to steer it in a different direction, with disasterious results.
Incident At Loch Ness doesn't try to be profound. Herzog (the character) never finds out just why people want to believe in monsters. Herzog (the onscreen character) plays it straight while Penn and Karnow play it for laughs. The big questions are never answered, but that's OK. They weren't meant to be. All you're supposed to do is hop on board for the ride. Since the film is largely improvised, you might like this if you enjoy Christopher Guest.
Personally, I loved it, and I also loved the DVD bonus features which shed a little light (but not too much) on the making of the film.Read more ›
The independent, creative mind clashes with big-budget in "Incident as Loch Ness," a bizarre mockumentary-within-a-mockumentary (sort of a fictional "Lost in Le Mancha"). It has some problems -- a slow pace and spotty humour -- but it's still an interesting little movie.
The movie opens in 2003, with an interviewer visiting Werner Herzog (played by... himself) for a documentary. Herzog explains that his forthcoming movie is a documentary about Loch Ness, and how people want to believe in a monster. For this, he's collaborating with Zakk Penn (himself again), writer of movies like "Elektra," "X2," and "X-Men: The Last Stand." Very, very mainstream.
But problems crop up as soon as they get to Scotland. Herzog finds that Penn has hired a Playmate/sonar operator, an exozoologist and a big inflatable plesiosaur. He's trying to turn the intelligent documentary into Hollywood garbage. But as Herzog decides to put a stop to it, something huge in the water attacks the boat...
This is a notable movie for two reasons: It's Zakk Penn's first indie movie, and it's the most bizarre movie that Herzog has ever done. And as we're reminded, he once had a riverboat hauled over a mountain, so that is saying something. At the end, it's hard to even remember that this was all "wheels within wheels."
Stylistically, "Incident" does exactly what it is supposed to do: twist reality, and turn the documentary on its ear. It's slow-paced and rather meditative, like behind-the-scenes documentaries are, and at times it's pretty dull. No outright funny stuff, but it has a sort of wry humour in scenes like the exozoologist showing off his tentacle, or the Playboy girl installing the sonar.Read more ›
If you've ever seen any "making of" features about Herzog and his movies (or "My Best Fiend"), the understated way Herzog plays his part is completely believable and makes the movie absurdly funny. So many of the difficult situations Herzog finds himself in during his directing travails are often described by him in hilarious understatement in these other features, which lends itself perfectly to this type of satire. However, without being aware of this aspect of Herzog's personality, this movie won't be nearly as amusing.
Zak Penn is an amazing man just for being willing to make himself look like such a total idiot on film. Considering a large part of the cast were not actors per se, they did a fabulous job of making it look real, even after the point where the happenings have become so absurd you know it can't possibly be so (I already knew going in that it was all staged, which made it even more entertaining to me from the get-go).
And just in case by the end you didn't get that the whole thing was fake, the jaunty music over the end titles should clue you in.
I have not listened to the commentaries yet, but there is one set where they comment on the documentary as if it was real, and another set that's the real commentary on the making of the mockumentary. Just that idea earns this DVD five stars, plus all the extras hidden on the DVD. But even without that, it was a truly entertaining movie that I'm itching to see again. I had many moments of out-loud laughter, which is something that does not often happen to me with movies.
Most recent customer reviews
Ce film n'est pas une réalisation de Herzog. Il s'adresse à ceux qui aiment Herzog le personnage et non le réalisateur. Read morePublished on Aug. 9 2010 by Ben
The "documentary" is great. But if (like me) you ordered the DVD for the extra features -- particularly the 'directors' comments -- you'll be very disappointed. Read morePublished on Sept. 23 2008 by Alistair Wentworth
i'm one of the few who enjoyed this film. i took it for what it was, and laughed throughout the movie.
herzog in a mockumentry, who would have thought? Read more
The first 20 minutes of INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS is actually quite convincing. The remaining 70 minutes contains far too many film industry insider jokes/references and over the top... Read morePublished on Oct. 12 2005