Die grosse Ekstase des Bildschnitzers Steiner
Germany, 44 min
In his quest for ecstasy, Werner Herzog finds a perfect alter ego in Walter Steiner, a famous ski-jumper from the 1970s. With their shared vision of the sport and the idea of exploits, they both express in their own way the human condition in a permanent state of surpassing one’s limits. Steiner does not so much aim to win medals as to pursue his “dreams of flying”. Herzog, through his cinematographic process, extends the temporality of the flight, in which (enlever the) slow motion bears witness to the beauty of the gesture, yet without abandoning the image of the fall, which is essential in this never satisfied ambition. The film is set during the 1972 World Championships in Slovakia, where the filmmaker plays a sarcastic and ironic journalist, proving through this stance that the actual challenge lies elsewhere. Steiner’s discipline is cleverly brought to its artistic dimension, thus put on the same level as his sculptures of wood figurines, which are just as aerial. In a film that functions like a breaking point in his filmography, Herzog is already documenting the possibility of escaping from the earth’s gravity.