Precautions Against Fanatics

Posted on March 26, 2011

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Werner Herzog’s Precautions against Fanatics is a strangely surreal film shot in documentary style. Whether or not it is actually a documentary is debatable from the beginning, because some of the things the characters say are rather ridiculous, and some of the characters do things that aren’t really done in real life. The film takes place at a horse racetrack, and some of the people who train and take care of the horses are interviewed. While these horse trainers claim to protect the horses from overzealous fans (with one character telling the camera person to “go away,” and the he knows the most about the horses out of anyone there), it seems in reality that the trainers are in fact the ones who need to be taken away from the horses.

The characters themselves are comedic, and the dialogue is almost believable, just to the point where the viewer isn’t quite sure what to think. These characters seem to be dedicating endless hours to the horses, without really paying attention to anything else, let alone one another. Herzog’s films seem to examine people who seem very real on the outside, but are slightly eccentric as we see their lives unfold. He stays true to this style in this film. The addition of the music in the beginning makes it feel even more like a documentary, though by the end of the movie, it’s quite obviously not what we originally thought it was.

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