Bad things happen when Werner Herzog is involved in films he doesn’t direct. “Happy People” maybe have started this terrible pattern back in early 2012 of a film directed by a novice film maker Dmitry Vasyukov and narrated by Werner Herzog. Now Netflix Instant Watch features the film “Dinotasia” produced by the Discovery Channel, and narrated by Werner Herzog. “Dinotasia” seems to follow in this terrible, terrible, pattern of mediocre films narrated by a great man, which is unfortunate because the last time the Discovery Channel and Werner Herzog teamed up they made “Encounters at the End of the World“. This film, however was funded by a sizable grant, no doubt, from the National Science Foundation.
When I heard news of “Dinotasia” I, like any good Herzog fan, was excited. But then I saw the preview, with the dinosaur sex scene, and I got all sorts of weirded out. The special seems to rely on “dinosaur slapstick”. There’s one sequence where a herbivore ears a couple hallucinogenic mushrooms. The dinosaur then has a weird dino-drug trip, where it almost dies.
To his credit, Herzog probably only has a dozen lines throughout the hour and a half special. Again to his credit, this is one weird dinosaur special, fit for a weirdo/existentialist like himself.
In the end of the film, 13 years after the meteor strikes, the bird dinosaur makes a nest in a giant dead lizard dinosaurs mouth. We zoom into the dino-birds eyeball, zoom out and BOOM! Pigeon eye nesting on the Chrysler Building. Herzog reminds us that “life is fragile, and we too might disappear”.
Earlier in his career, Herzog leant his voice and narration to a short called “Plastic Bag” by Futurestates.
This short film by American director Ramin Bahrani (Goodbye Solo) traces the epic, existential journey of a plastic bag (voiced by Werner Herzog) searching for its lost maker, the woman who took it home from the store and eventually discarded it. Along the way, it encounters strange creatures, experiences love in the sky, grieves the loss of its beloved maker, and tries to grasp its purpose in the world.
In the end, the wayward plastic bag wafts its way to the ocean, into the tides, and out into the Pacific Ocean trash vortex — a promised nirvana where it will settle among its own kind and gradually let the memories of its maker slip away.