Ten Thousand Years Older: A Fascinating Short Documentary by Werner Herzog
I've long been interested in remote cultures and uncontacted peoples, a fascination I share, apparently, with film director Werner Herzog. Back in 2000, when everyone had millennium fever, he was asked to make a ten-minute short film for a program of shorts called Ten Minutes Older, each of which was to be a meditation on time. Herzog chose as his subject the Amondauas people of Brazil, who until 1981 had never had contact with modern civilization. The film opens with footage from that first tense encounter, then shows what happened just a few weeks later -- many of the people, who lacked the immunities to common viruses which most of us take for granted, succumbed to disease. Twenty years later, Herzog visits the (now immunized) survivors -- the elders, in tee-shirts and ball caps, who reminisce nostalgically about their old ways, and the younger generation, who are embarrassed to have "savages" for parents. It's a strange and dark and somehow fatalistic little film; in other words, classic Herzog.