Precautions Against Fanatics (1969)
Central to the ongoing thematic concerns of Werner Herzog’s cinema is the question of vocation, of what activities, often wildly ambitious, seemingly pathological or downright peculiar, call out to certain, often-eccentric individuals, giving their lives a sense of almost divinely inspired purpose. It’s one of the things that allows the not un-eccentric Herzog to connect to so many subjects he might otherwise feel unable to relate with…
Quoted from this analysis of Herzog’s films, the above claim is a fitting description of the directors style and predominant themes. Werner Herzog films extremists, weirdos, and people you wouldn’t meet everyday walking down the street, and he somehow makes them seem relatable and ridiculous at the same time. This short is a pseudo-documentary with a bit of absurd humor, something I have a sneeking suspicion would be much funnier to a German sense of humor than a young American’s. Still, at only eleven minutes long, the film is worth a view.
The DVD Verdict Review has this to say in summary:
Precautions Against Fanatics doesn’t seem to fit with the previous films at all. But that’s okay, because there aren’t many films that Precautions Against Fanatics would fit in with. The film is a surreal little excursion into Herzog’s sense of humor. The 11-minute film takes place primarily at a race track, while various people try to describe what they do to help the horses, which include everything from standing in front of the pens to walking around a tree to guarding a fence. Although I found it funny, I had the sense that I was missing something, and the DVD box mentions something about German celebrities, so I can only assume that some of the actors are famous people. In any event, the short is bizarre enough to stand on its own without cultural reference and would be appreciated by fans of strange comedy.
For the purpose of a short film class, it is also a good introduction to Herzog’s distinct brand of filmmaking.